Tina weirather

Hanni Wenzel
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Liechtenstein: The little country that could win medals

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Liechtenstein has a population of a little less than 40,000. That’s less than the population of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

Fond du Lac isn’t without its share of successful athletes, including 2007 U.S. high jump champion Jim Dilling and quarterback Colin Kaepernick. But it would be hard-pressed to match Liechtenstein’s Olympic medal tally: two gold, two silver and six bronze.

The breakthrough was in the 1976 Olympics in Innsbruck, when Willi Frommelt took bronze in men’s slalom and Hanni Wenzel took bronze in women’s slalom.

Four years later, Wenzel was the most dominant Alpine skier of Lake Placid’s Olympics. She took gold in the slalom and giant slalom, and she showed her versatility with a silver medal in the downhill. Her brother, Andi Wenzel, earned a silver medal in giant slalom. With four total medals, Liechtenstein tied mighty Austria atop the 1980 medal count in Alpine skiing.

Hanni Wenzel’s Olympic success wasn’t a surprise. She won her first World Cup season title in giant slalom in 1974 and was the overall champion in 1978 and 1980. Andi Wenzel also won the overall championship on the men’s side in 1980.

Andi came back in 1984 in Sarajevo to pick up another giant slalom medal, this time a bronze. Ursula Konzett, the country’s flag bearer in 1976, added a bronze in women’s slalom, a bit of a surprise given her lack of World Cup success.

The last medal of this stretch went to Paul Frommelt, Willi’s brother, who finally broke through at age 30 with a bronze in slalom in 1988. The Frommelts’ father, Christof Frommelt, represented Liechtenstein in cross-country skiing at the 1948 Games. Another Frommelt sibling, Peter Frommelt, was a Paralympian in table tennis.

With the retirements of the Wenzel and Frommelt siblings, who accounted for all but one of the country’s medals to this point, Liechtenstein hit a dry patch for a while.

But the drought ended in 2018, when Tina Weirather took bronze in super-G to cap a career marred by injuries that kept her out of the 2010 and 2014 Olympics. Weirather had recovered to win the World Cup super-G season titles in 2017 and 2018, accomplishing nearly everything she put on a list of goals she jotted down while she was injured at age 17.

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When I wrote this, I was 17 years old. I was at home with 2 injured knees – my best World Cup result to date was an 8th place. I was working with a sport psychologist, to get over the fact that I just hurt both my knees. I remember I was a little ashamed of this list… I took care no one saw it, I didn’t want anyone to think I’m crazy. Naive. Unrealistic. I forgot about the book – until I found it again, this fall, cleaning out my office. I had tears in my eyes, cause it seemed like a very far away, but unimaginably beautiful and strong dream back then, and now I can look back and think ‚I did it‘. I’m grateful I found this, cause in the process I didn’t feel like achieving everything I wanted – When I won silver, I wanted gold. When I had 2 crystal globes, I wanted a third. That drive makes athletes successful. Yet in the end, if you write down your wildest dreams when you were 17, and they became true – enjoy it, and don’t have any regrets. #retirement #nextlife #thankyou

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Weirather’s medal brought the Wenzel family total to seven — two for her uncle Andi and four for her mother, Hanni.

Liechtenstein also has one Paralympic medal Josef Gmeiner‘s bronze in the B1-2 slalom in 1994.

With Weirather’s retirement this year, Liechtenstein’s presence in Alpine skiing has dimmed. Marco Pfiffner earned World Cup points for the first time this season with a 29th-place finish in a combined event. Weirather is the only woman from Liechtenstein to earn World Cup points since Marina Nigg did so in the 2011-12 season.

Ten medals, though, may provide some inspiration for skiers on the slopes of the Maldun ski resort.

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Mikaela Shiffrin breaks 30-year World Cup single-season win record

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Taking a victory lap the only way she knows how, the U.S.’ Mikaela Shiffrin rewrote the World Cup record books with her 15th win of the season. In 53 World Cup seasons no man or woman has won more than 14 races. Until now.

Switzerland’s Vreni Schneider had held the record after winning 14 races of her own during the 1988-89 World Cup campaign.

The win is Shiffrin’s sixth World Cup slalom win of the season, further justifying her dominance in the discipline on tour which extends back to 2013.

Shiffrin had already clinched her third overall World Cup title, as well as her third-consecutive slalom crystal globe. Any World Cup points picked up in today’s race would only add to her stifling control of the leaderboard.

After the first run this morning through falling Czech snow, Shiffrin held the lead by just over three tenths, with Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener in second, and Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter in third, nearly a second and a half behind Shiffrin. Hansdotter recently announced her plans to retire from competition at the end of the season.

In the second run, Holdener came out attacking, skiing just ahead of Shiffrin. Holdener made it cleanly through the top section of the course which kept many of the top slalom skiers of the day off balance, including Hansdotter, who’s mistakes landed her off the podium in seventh. Holdener crossing the finish line with the lead by more than a second.

However, Shiffrin had the final say, and came out on top with a clean run more than eight tenths faster than Holdener. Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova finished in third, more than two seconds behind Shiffrin.  

Full results are here.

Prior to racing this week, Shiffrin had been holed up in Italy, training and resting ahead of the final two weeks of the season. She teased fans by posting a photo of herself holding up a pair of skis on Facebook with the caption “P.S. Yes, these are my super-G skis,” which all but confirms she will attempt to win the tightly contested super-G globe next week in Andorra. Shiffrin currently clings to a 32-point lead over Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein in the standings.

In addition to the super-G crystal globe, Shiffrin also has the opportunity to win the giant slalom season title.

Speaking after her third-place finish in this Friday’s giant slalom in Spindleruv Mlyn, Shiffrin explained, despite her 97-point cushion in the GS standings, she must stay focused if she expects hold off her Slovakian rival, Vlhova. Vlhova won on Friday, skiing six tenths faster than Shiffrin.

“I think there is still something possible at the finals so I won’t celebrate yet. But I am really happy to have this kind of advantage,” said Shiffrin according to the Associated Press. “Slalom, overall and GS are my biggest goals this year so it’s an incredible place to be right now.”

The World Cup men were racing in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia today where Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen got the win in giant slalom, his third win and sixth podium appearance in a GS race this season. Austria’s Marcel Hirscher finished off the podium in sixth. A win would have allowed Hirscher to clinch his eighth-consecutive World Cup overall title, but that will now have to wait at least a day.

Kristoffersen’s countryman Rasmus Windingstad landed on his first World Cup podium, finishing in second. Windingstad jumped up five spots to make the podium with his second run performance.

Full results are here.

Hirscher gets another chance at the overall title tomorrow as racing continues in Slovenia with the men’s slalom. The first run is scheduled to begin at 4:30 a.m. ET and the second at 7:30 a.m. ET. Watch the first run live on OlympicChannel.com or with an NBC Sports Gold Snow Pass. The second run will air live on Olympic Channel on TV and streaming with coverage also available on NBC Sports Gold.

Beginning on Wednesday, the 2018-19 World Cup season finale gets underway in Andorra with the men’s and women’s downhill.

To see Shiffrin attempt to win two more crystal globes this season, watch the women’s super-G on Thursday and Sunday’s giant slalom.

Check out the full schedule below for times, events and where to watch live on TV and streaming.

ALPINE SKIING WORLD CUP FINAL — Soldeu, Andorra

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Wednesday 5:30 a.m. Men’s & Women’s Downhill Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
12:30 p.m. Men’s & Women’s Downhill* NBCSN
Thursday 5:30 a.m. Men’s & Women’s Super-G Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
11:00 p.m. Men’s & Women’s Super-G* NBCSN
Friday 7:00 a.m. Team Event Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
Saturday 4:30 a.m. Men’s Giant Slalom (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
5:30 a.m. Women’s Slalom (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
7:00 a.m. Men’s Giant Slalom (Run 2) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
8:00 a.m. Women’s Slalom (Run 2) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
Sunday 4:30 a.m. Women’s Giant Slalom (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
5:30 a.m. Men’s Slalom (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
7:00 a.m. Women’s Giant Slalom (Run 2) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
8:00 a.m. Men’s Slalom (Run 2) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
3:30 p.m. Women’s Giant Slalom* NBCSN

 

Shiffrin comes out on top in head-to-head Super-G with Vonn

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One chapter in the career of U.S. skier Lindsey Vonn came to a close on Sunday in Cortina d’Ampezzo, but it wasn’t the kind of ending she would have chosen.

Vonn was one of many skiers on Sunday who were unable to finish the Super-G course. After making it through the most technically difficult section, Vonn misjudged her line coming out of the shadows, hit a gate and was forced to pull up.

Sunday’s Super-G marked the final time Vonn would race in Cortina d’Ampezzo. With 12 wins over 18 years of competition, Vonn holds the all-time win record at the venue. Vonn’s legacy in Cortina was honored at Saturday night’s awards ceremony, where she was overcome with emotion.

On Sunday, a disappointed Vonn made her way to the finish, where her close friend and fierce competitor, Italy’s Sofia Goggia, greeted her with a bouquet of flowers before dropping down to bow to Vonn.

The U.S.’ Mikaela Shiffrin, as with the previous three World Cup Super-Gs this season, found a way to win in Cortina. Racing for the first time this weekend, Shiffrin started her run .30 hundredths of a second back at the first checkpoint. But as it is with Shiffrin, she stayed strong through the end of her run, making up time and crossing the finish line to take the lead by .16 hundredths of a second.

Joining Shiffrin on the podium were Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather and Austria’s Tamara Tippler. Full results are here.

Along with Vonn, some of the best World Cup Super-G skiers also struggled to finish. The winner of Friday and Saturday’s downhill races in Cortina, Austria’s Ramona Siebenhofer followed by Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin posted back-to-back DNFs on the same turn early in their runs.

Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec, a dual-podium finisher in Cortina this weekend, also skied out in the Super-G. Eleven racers in all would not cross the finish line on Sunday.

This is the 54th World Cup win for Shiffrin, which ties her with Austria’s Hermann Maier on the all-time World Cup win list.

Shiffrin is also currently leading across four categories in World Cup competition, including the overall title.

On the men’s tour, it turned out to be a second-run slugfest in slalom to close out the weekend in Wengen. In the end, France’s Clement Noel won his first World Cup event, holding off Manny Feller of Austria, while slalom World Cup points leader Marcel Hirscher slipped to third, despite having the fastest second-run time. Full results are here.

Next week the women’s World Cup heads to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany to race the downhill and Super-G. Competition begins on Saturday, January 26 with the women’s downhill at 4:00 a.m. EST.

The men’s tour heads to Kitzbuehel, Austria for three races — Super-G, downhill and slalom. The Super-G gets things underway on Friday, January 25 at 5:30 a.m. EST.

Watch every race live on Olympic Channel or stream it live with NBC Sports Gold.

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