ST. MORITZ, SWITZERLAND – Tina Weirather produced a fitting birthday present for her mother, two-time Olympic gold medalist Hanni Wenzel.
Weirather won a World Cup super-G race in St. Moritz on Saturday on her mother’s 57th birthday — and at the same resort where Wenzel became the slalom world champion in 1974.
Weirather timed 1 minute, 17.38 seconds to finally climb atop the podium after finishing runnerup three times already this season. Kajsa Kling of Sweden was second, 0.31 seconds back, and Anna Fenninger of Austria trailed by 0.39 in third.
Mother and daughter shared a celebratory hug in the finish area after the victory on a near-perfect still, sunny day in the Swiss Alps.
“I had a parcel for her but this first place will be a bigger present,” Weirather said at her winner’s news conference.
Weirather’s flair for speed certainly follows her father, Harti Weirather, who won downhill gold at the 1982 World Championships staged at Schladming in his native Austria.
St. Moritz seems like the family’s favorite place, though, after Wenzel’s slalom gold and combined silver here when the 1974 worlds were held at the high-end resort just 120 km from the border with tiny Liechtenstein.
“I think it’s an awesome story because she was world champion,” the 24-year-old Weirather said. “Now she’s here and it’s her birthday.”
Weirather has podium finishes in three disciplines this season, suggesting she can challenge for the overall World Cup title her mother won in 1978 and 1980.
Weirather earned 100 race points Saturday and moved up to second overall, trailing 37 behind Lara Gut of Switzerland.
Gut was the pre-race favorite on a course where she earned her first World Cup win as a precocious 17-year-old in 2008, but placed seventh, 1.12 back. Gut also retained her lead in the super-G standings.
Lindsey Vonn of the United States, who won this race last year, skipped the St. Moritz meet which concludes with a giant slalom on Sunday. Vonn has chosen a lighter World Cup schedule to manage a knee injury before the Sochi Olympics.
Kling almost spoiled the family party, continuing her breakthrough season at age 24. She never had a top-10 finish in a World Cup race before the downhill last Saturday at Lake Louise, Canada, and now has three in eight days.
“I’ve been working a lot with the physical training and mentally, because I’m really nervous and now I’ve learned to handle it at the start,” Kling said.
After a stellar 2013 season, the U.S. team is still seeking a first podium finish after six speed races in this World Cup campaign. Stacey Cook was the top finisher in 16th, 1.74 behind, and Julia Mancuso was 20th, 1.92 back.
Weirather’s second career World Cup victory was also her second in super-G. She was victorious in March at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
She still has a long way to go to equal her mother’s 33 career World Cup wins, eighth on the all-time list.
Wenzel’s Olympic record will also take some catching: Four medals including slalom and giant slalom golds at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics.
It is still early in the Sochi Olympic season, but Weirather is pointed in the right direction.