Tina Weirather beats Ilka Stuhec to win first super-G globe; Vonn crashes
Lindsey Vonn hits gate, crashes into Berlin Wall fencing but uninjured
Tina Weirather doesn’t play up the family tree. Even though her parents — Hanni Wenzel and Harti Weirather — have combined for eight World Cup globes, 39 World Cup wins, five World Championship titles and two Olympic titles, Tina doesn’t feel that’s necessarily part of her legacy.
“It’s a long time ago that they won theirs,” Weirather said Thursday in Aspen after clinching the women’s super-G globe at the World Cup Finals. “I would say it’s my biggest achievement yet.”
Weirather, the 27-year-old from Liechtenstein who trains with the Swiss team, had been in a heated battle all season with Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec and, before her season-ending injury, Switzerland’s Lara Gut, for the super-G season title. It came down to one final race Thursday at Aspen Mountain, Weirather entering the race with a 15-point deficit to Stuhec, who won the downhill globe only a day before.
“The challenge was for sure big. I knew I needed an amazing run to beat her today,” Weirather said of Stuhec. “I was talking to her at the start and was like, ‘Let’s have a good battle, a fair fight.’ And she was like, ‘Yes,’ and I think it was. I think it was fair, it was good, and I was the lucky one today.”
Weirather was fifth out of the gate Thursday, while Stuhec went two skiers later. Weirather was masterful in her run, finishing in 1 minute, 11.66 seconds, setting what proved to be an impossibly high bar to overcome. Stuhec did her best, coming in only 0.35 seconds behind and into second place.
Both skiers still had to wait around for the field to complete their runs. Weirather’s advantage was only five points after Stuhec’s run with them sitting 1-2, and she could have lost that lead had any other skier beaten her time.
However, nobody pushed the leaders, and two of their biggest threats — American Lindsey Vonn and Italian Sofia Goggia — both crashed. Weirather held on to win the race, with Stuhec in second and Italy’s Frederica Brignone taking third. Weirather’s father won a 1981 downhill in Aspen.
Weirather edged Stuhec 435 points to 430 points for the women’s super-G globe. It is the first discipline title for Weirather, who has had an injury-plagued career. Thursday’s win also was the first of the season for Weirather, whose previous highlight was a super-G silver at World Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Her last win came in super-G at the 2016 World Cup Finals, also in St. Moritz. She was fifth in Wednesday’s downhill race.
“I fought through it and I’m really proud of it. Days like today are the best reward you can get,” Weirather said of overcoming her injuries, which includes numerous knee surgeries. “The medal in St. Moritz was big, too, but for an athlete, it’s more important to win a globe than a medal, just because you need to perform more and you have to be strong throughout the whole season. That’s what makes it so much more worth it for an athlete.”
Vonn and Laurenne Ross were the lone Americans competing in Thursday’s super-G. Both crashed in a similar spot near the Airplane Turn, but neither were hurt. Vonn took second in Wednesday’s downhill race, while Ross was fifth.
“I think I released the ski a little bit too early,” Vonn said. “Once I realized I didn’t have enough direction, I tried to really hammer on it. I didn’t really have the strength and power to make it back. I almost had it, but I didn’t.”
Said Ross: “I just got a little bit jacked in transition and got kind of high-sided and slid for a while. I can’t exactly say what happened. Normally when I fall I can’t say what happened.”
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There might be part of Hailey Swirbul that is finally beginning to believe she belongs. The 22-year-old cross-country skier is coming off quite a stretch with the U.S. ski team, one that includes her first career World Cup podium and a successful go in the notorious Tour de Ski stage race.