Dominant Weirather storms to giant slalom win
Liechtenstein's Tina Weirather competes during the first run of the Women's giant slalom at the FIS Ski World Cup on December 22, 2013 in Val d'Isere, French Alps
The 24-year-old extended her lead in the overall World Cup standings and confirmed her early season form that has seen her win the St Moritz super-G as well as three second places (Lake Louise super-G and downhill, Beaver Creek downhill) and a third place in the giant slalom, also in Beaver Creek.
Weirather clocked a combined time of 2min 24.10sec down the Oreiller Killy (OK) piste in clement weather at the glitzy French resort.
"Today was a very great day for me," said Weirather. "It feels awesome for me to get a first win in the giant slalom."
Weirather comes from fine skiing stock, daughter of former World Cup ski racers Harti Weirather of Austria and Hanni Wenzel of Liechtenstein.
Her mother Hanni, a double Olympic gold medallist in 1980, claimed 33 wins and 89 podium placings on the global circuit in a glittering career. But she never triumphed in Val d'Isere.
"I didn't know there was a piste in this world where my mum hadn't won," joked Weirather, whose first win on December 14 came on her mother's 57th birthday.
"It's good we've now got it in the family!"
She was a massive 0.66sec up on her rivals after a barnstorming first leg and that advantage was increased to 0.73sec over second-placed Lara Gut of Switzerland, winner of the season opener in Soelden, by the time she'd come down the second run.
Slalom specialist Maria Pietilae-Holmner of Sweden finished third in 2:25.05 for her first World Cup podium in the discipline.
"It's always fun to be on the podium and make points," said Gut, who has failed to finish her last two giant slaloms.
"I skied well in Beaver Creek and St Moritz before going out in both, and I knew I could be fast today."
Pietilae-Holmner described her third place as a "perfect Christmas gift" after two seasons troubled by knee and shoulder injuries.
"I'm now back with no injuries," she said. "I've been working to push more and let the skis go, it went very well."
It was another Swede, the unheralded Kajsa Kling, who had been the long-time leader after starting third in the second run.
But she was eventually overtaken by the bigger names and finished 10th in a good day's racing for Sweden, with Jessica Lindell-Vikarby also taking sixth, one-hundredth of a second behind multi-medal winning German Maria Hoefl-Riesch.
Slovenia's 2011 world champion Tina Maze produced a fine second run to make up for a mistake that cost her dear on the first leg, eventually finishing in 11th spot.
American hope Mikaela Shiffrin, the reigning world slalom champion, came in eighth, just behind Austrian Anna Fenninger.
"I was really tired coming from the US to here and I had to re-think how I was doing things, making sure I was getting my recoveries," the 18-year-old said.
"Before this race I actually got some rest and I felt a lot better today which just means that I have to ski faster. So it's good and bad, but I'm very happy with a top-10."
The race was deprived of the current world giant slalom champion, France's Tessa Worley having suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee in last week's slalom in Courchevel.