BEAVER CREEK, Colorado (Reuters) - Tina Maze had to share Olympic downhill gold but top spot at the alpine ski world championships was hers alone on Friday, as the Slovenian speedster outraced Anna Fenninger in the blue riband event.
Maze, who tied with Switzerland’s Dominique Gisin at the Sochi Winter Games, was virtually in a class of her own on a sun-kissed day as she shot down a challenging Raptor track in one minute, 45.89 seconds.
Austria’s Anna Fenninger, who won the championship-opening Super-G on the same layout on Tuesday, took second with Swiss speedster Lara Gut third.
A philosophical Maze was edged for Super-G gold by 0.03 seconds but on Friday good fortune was on her side as she pipped Fenninger by a wafer-thin margin of 0.02.
“It’s amazing, it’s crazy good,” said Maze after collecting her eighth world championship medal (three gold, five silver. “Finally, I understood this hill, how you should ski.
“It’s a hard hill to ski, but when you ski like that, it’s so much fun.”
For much of the race, the packed grandstand and thousands of spectators lining the course waited patiently for American speed queen Lindsey Vonn, the most successful women’s skier of all-time with 64 World Cup wins, to launch her bid for gold.
The favourite after topping the World Cup podium five times in 10 races this season, including two downhill wins, Vonn posted the fastest times through two intervals.
But then it all went wrong has she wobbled through the middle part of the course, losing time all the way to the bottom and crossing a disappointing fifth.
“It just wasn’t a good run, I tried so hard, it just wasn’t quite good enough,” said Vonn. “I wanted to come down with the lead early and give the crowd something to cheer about. It’s my home town and I really wanted to do something special.
“But it’s not always that easy.”
It was another productive day for the Austrians who have now collected medals from every event, including gold in both Super-G races.
They launched an all-out assault on the podium, placing three in the top six as the ski-mad nation continued to stamp its authority on the two-week competition.
“I was a bit emotional at the finish when I was one second in the lead and then big emotion when Tina came down,” said Fenninger. “I always think that the luck comes back.”
Editing by Gene Cherry