Maze amazes with second giant slalom win in Aspen

Sat Nov 24, 2012 5:51pm EST
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By Manuele Lang

ASPEN, Colorado (Reuters) - With most of her rivals in the doldrums, especially Lindsey Vonn, Tina Maze found herself in the pole position of the early World Cup season thanks to her victory in the Aspen giant slalom on Saturday.

The discipline's world champion has now won two out of three races after the season opener in Soelden two months ago, and holds a commanding lead in the overall standings with 250 points.

"I'm extremely happy. After Soelden I have the impression that it is this year or never," she said. "It's a real relief when you've worked so hard for five years with a small group and you realise it's paying off at last."

Crowned in a combined time of one minute and 59.39 seconds as she finished ahead of Austria's Kathrin Zettel and Olympic champion Vitkoria Rebensburg, Maze broke with the Slovenian federation five years to launch her own training team with her own coaches and servicemen.

Consistency is now combining with natural talent to turn her into a leading contender this season.

"It was close last year already. Now I don't want to think too far ahead," she said. "I just want to ski well and not think that I'm winning just because Lindsey is unwell. I hope to win thanks to my talent and my strengths."

While Zettel finished 0.90 seconds adrift and Rebensburg 1.54 behind, World Cup defending champion Vonn, hampered by a lingering stomach bug, finished 21st.

All eyes at the finish were on the local favourite, who had left her fans guessing whether she would compete after being hospitalised last week because of gastric problems.   Continued...