A Winter Olympian named Winter? Marathon whiz kid wins aerials World Cup.
Winter Vinecki, who ran a marathon on all seven continents, including the Antarctica Marathon at age 14, just moved a step closer to another feat: becoming the first Winter Olympian with the first name “Winter.”
Vinecki, 22, recorded her first aerials World Cup podium in Moscow on Saturday. It happened to be a victory.
“I just can’t believe it,” she said, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “I don’t know how many top sixes I have had [editor’s note: seven before Saturday] and so to finally have that podium moment, let alone that first place is incredible.”
Vinecki landed a double-full full to beat a field that included the last two Olympic champions — Belarusians Alla Tsuper and Hanna Huskova — and the reigning World Cup season champion Laura Peel of Australia.
It came six days after Megan Nick earned her first World Cup victory to end a three-year drought for U.S. women. Four different American women made the podium in the first four World Cups this season. Up to four can be named to the Beijing Olympic team next year.
Vinecki ran her first 5K and completed her first triathlon at age 5. At age 12, she met U.S. Olympic aerialist Emily Cook, who convinced her to take up the high-flying ski sport.
She also kept running, becoming the first person to complete a marathon on every continent before turning 15 (with her mother, Dr. Dawn Estelle, each time).
But the turning point in her life came when she was 9. Her father, Michael, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of prostate cancer (and died the following year).
Vinecki, before turning 10, and her family founded the non-profit Team Winter to fight prostate cancer, raising more than $500,000. Vinecki became a public speaker, appearing on the Rachael Ray Show at age 10 and giving a TED Talk at 14.
She missed the PyeongChang Olympic team after fracturing the right side of her face in a freak summer 2017 water-ramp training accident, needing two titanium plates inserted. She now wears a protective face mask under her helmet.
There have been Olympians with the last name “Winter” and the first or last name “Summer,” but none with the first name “Winter,” according to Olympedia.org.
“A lot of what I’ve done in my athletic career, whether it be running or skiing, has always been in honor of my dad in some way,” Vinecki said, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “To get out on the podium, let alone a win, just increases my platform with more awareness to my causes. It was a super memorable moment.”
NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.
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