Skier Tina Weirather eager to bounce back at worlds

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. (AP) Liechtenstein skier Tina Weirather can't shake the Sochi Olympics. The occasional ache in her right leg serves as a reminder.

She crashed in a downhill training run last February and badly banged her shin, an injury that still lingers.

''I have days where I can 100 percent attack and go to my limit, where I feel confident and strong. But I have days where it doesn't work,'' said Weirather, who will compete in the super-G, downhill and giant slalom at the world championships that begin Tuesday with the women's super-G race. ''I'm working on it, having more of the good days.

''If I can figure that out, I can be really good.''

Because when healthy, Weirather is as fast as anyone. The difficult part has been staying healthy.

The 25-year-old has torn the ACL in her right knee three times. In Sochi, she was among the favorites until her crash.

''I've had a lot of disappointments to deal with,'' said Weirather, whose best finish at worlds was 13th in the downhill two years ago in Austria. ''I can't say that my confidence is super, super high, but I think everything is possible. The skiing is there.''

No question about that. She has finished third in two races this season, including a super-G in Italy two weeks ago.

Ski racing is all she has wanted to do since she was 3 years old - all she ever answered when anyone asked.

Not surprising, really, considering skiing runs in the family. Her mother, Hanni Wenzel, was a two-time gold medalist at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics. Her father, Harti Weirather, won the downhill at the 1982 world championships as he represented Austria.

''This has always been my dream. That's never changed,'' she said. ''Then, after so many injuries, of course I had to think about it.''

Sometimes, Weirather can't help but wonder just how good she would've been at her other favorite sport - tennis. She does have a mean backhand. And her serve-and-volley game isn't bad, either.

Weirather said she used to train with the mother of Swiss standout Martina Hingis - the same Martina Hingis who won an Australian Open mixed doubles title Sunday - and that Weirather once was told she had what it took to be a top-flight player.

''She really believed in me,'' recounted Weirather, who also cross trains by biking, wind surfing and hopes to one day take up paragliding. ''But in tennis, you always have to fight against someone.

''That's why I love skiing, where it's just you and the mountain and when you finish, you see your time.''

NOTES: U.S. Alpine director Patrick Riml called Bode Miller's progress from back surgery ''unbelievable.'' But his availability for the races this week still remains uncertain. Miller, who had a herniated disk fixed in November, squeezed in some super-G training Sunday in nearby Vail. ... American Julia Mancuso said she's recently been bothered by a sore hip. Not enough to keep her out of worlds, of course, but enough to affect her skiing. She's been working with her physiotherapist and was back on the slopes Sunday for giant slalom training. ''It's a lot better,'' she said. ''Everything is feeling good.''

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