BEAVER CREEK, Colorado (Reuters) - Slovenia’s Tina Maze positioned herself to become the queen of the alpine ski world championships by winning gold in the super combined on Monday and denying Austria a sweep of the medal podium.
While Austrians have reached the podium in all but one event since last week, Maze has been the individual star by collecting her second gold and third medal with a combined time of two minutes 33.37 seconds.
“I am totally exhausted today,” said Maze. “It’s a tough programme, a late (slalom) time and really warm so it’s all getting even harder and a tough downhill in the morning so it’s a pretty tough day.
“But winning is always amazing and even if you have no energy, now you can recover for the next day.”
Austria’s Nicole Hosp, the combined silver medallist at last year’s Sochi Olympics, finished second, followed by compatriots Michaela Kirchgasser and Anna Fenninger.
The Austrians now have three gold medals, two silvers and a bronze from six events at Beaver Creek, failing only to reach the podium in the blue riband men’s downhill.
Lindsey Vonn, who was in seventh place after the morning leg, skied out after missing a gate early in her slalom run.
Maze’s latest gold kept her on track to join Norway’s Lasse Kjus as the only skiers to win medals in all five disciplines at a world championships. Kjus accomplished the feat in 1999.
The 31-year-old Slovenian can join the elite club by picking up medals in Thursday’s giant slalom, an event she won in Sochi, and Saturday’s slalom to go along with her combined and downhill golds and Super-G silver.
After posting the fastest time in the morning downhill, just .02 seconds in front of Switzerland’s Lara Gut, Maze was the last skier out of the start hut for the slalom leg.
With the Austrian trio standing shoulder to shoulder in the finish area, Maze navigated the deteriorating layout in 48.12 seconds, the fifth fastest slalom time, before punching the air as she watched her name appear atop the leaderboard.
“It was really soft actually,” said Maze, who now has nine world championship medals to go along with four Olympic medals. “On the shadowed part, it was fine but then down here (on the bottom portion of the course) it was pretty soft.
“You had to go for it and I did my best.”
Editing by Frank Pingue