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Hanni WENZEL

Hannelore Wenzel (born December 14th, 1956 in Straubirn, West Germany) moved to Liechtenstein when she was one. Coming from a skiing family, she was introduced to the slopes early and was coached by her father Hubert. She debuted in the World Cup circus in 1972, placing 10th in a Giant Slalom staged in the Californian resort of Heavenly Valley. 'Hanni', as she was nicknamed, grew up as a slalom specialist but as time passed she became a solid all-around skier. Wenzel won her first World Cup race on December 20th, 1973, sealing first place in a Giant Slalom at Zell am See. This victory set the stage for her first great triumph. A year later Wenzel went to win the gold medal in the Slalom at the FIS World Championships in St. Moritz.

A few months later she was granted citizenship from Liechtenstein and despite having skied for West Germany until then began a second career, representing the tiny nation situated between Switzerland and Austria.

Wenzel managed only a single medal in the 1976 Winter Olympic Games, at Innsbruck, stepping on the lowest step of the podium in the Slalom race but continued to persevere had to wait only until the 1977-78 season to claim her first World Cup overall title. In that season she also finished runner-up in the FIS World Championships at Garmisch, ending second in the Combined event.

However, the peak of her career happened in 1980 when Wenzel dominated the technical events in the Winter Olympic Games at Lake Placid, winning both Slalom and Giant Slalom races. She also regained the large crystal globe at the end of the season, thanks to a career-high of 9 World Cup wins. History was made on March 12 of that magic year in the Austrian venue of Saalbach where Hanni and Andreas Wenzel topped the world of alpine ski racing. The brother and sister team claimed the most prestigious trophies in the World Cup for the first time in the history of the event.

Hanni Wenzel had reached the pinnacle of her career but unfortunately injury forced her to miss several events in 1981 and 1982 seasons. This caused only a light intermission in Wenzel's winning streak as she came back on top in 1983, finishing second in the overall standings behind US Tamara McKinney. The following year she seemed to be in line to clinch a hat-trick of overall World Cup titles, but in the last race she lost out to Swiss ace Erika Hess. In that year she was able to claim her first ever win in a downhill, snatching the success at Badgastein.


Wenzel enjoyed the last run on March 21st, 1984 at Zwiesel, Germany. She ended a stunning career with 33 wins, two overall World Cups, three WC discipline titles, plus several medals in the Olympics and World Championships. She trails only Vreni Schneider and Katja Seizinger as the most successful of all female Olympic Alpine skiers. Hanni Wenzel married the former Austrian skier Harti Weirather, the 1982 downhill World Champion. Her daughter Tina has followed in her parents' footsteps by winning two gold medals at the Junior World Championships in 2006 and 2007.

 
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