VIENNA - As if he needed any more excuse to hit the slopes, Austrian ski star and overall World Cup winner Marcel Hirscher has been given a free ski pass for life and a top award for his success in the recently concluded season. The 24-year-old, who took home world championship gold and the crystal globe in the slalom last season, was awarded the Golden Medal for Services to the Austrian Republic, one of the country's top orders, at a big party in his hometown on Saturday. The gifts also included a free ski pass for life in any resort in his home province of Salzburg. Hirscher became Austria's darling after winning the overall and giant slalom World Cup trophies last season and finished outside the podium only once in 21 slalom and giant slalom races. – AFP