- Alpine Skiing
Tina Maze's golden turn in Sochi poetic justice after recent dominance, struggles
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Slovenia’s Tina Maze calls slalom her favorite discipline, which perhaps is a surprise given that it is, of the five alpine ski events, her weakest.
It is giant slalom that brings out her soulful side. “GS,” she says, “is like poetry for me.”
- Full event replay – giant slalom run 1
- Full event replay – giant slalom run 2
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- Tina Maze: I came here to win giant slalom gold
- Anna Fenninger adds GS silver to SG gold
- Bronze for defending champ Viktoria Rebensburg
- Julia Mancuso fizzles in giant slalom
- Mikaela Shiffrin finishes 5th in Olympic debut
- Mikaela Shiffrin looks ahead to the slalom
- Kathrin Zettel skis through gate, takes down flag
- Expert analysis on Tina Maze’s second Olympic gold
In that spirit, after a wild and wet day Tuesday at Rosa Khutor that saw Maze fight through snow, rain, sleet and fog to win her second gold medal of the 2014 Winter Games and indisputably re-establish that she is, no question, the No. 1 female skier on Planet Earth, here is a haiku to commemorate not just the moment but the ski poetry Maze slammed down in winning the GS:
Tina Maze wins
One more Sochi gold medal
What now, Lindsey Vonn?
This much should be clear: Vonn, who is not here because of injury, almost surely would not have been a significant factor in the giant slalom. It’s hardly her best event.
That said, Maze’s dominance here — and for those counting syllables, her last name is pronounced Mah-zay— has gone unchallenged because, again, Vonn is not here.
There are no asterisks. That’s not the way this game is played.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Sochi Olympics: Women's Giant Slalom Run 2
Who, for instance, remembers that injuries kept Maria Riesch out of the 2006 Torino Games? Who, years from now, will remember that she — now Maria Hoefl-Riesch — sat out Tuesday’s GS because of what was called a “cold and breathing problems”?
Reisch won two golds in Vancouver in 2010, the combined and the slalom; here she won gold in the combined and silver in the super-G. She is the 2011 overall World Cup winner.
Vonn is the winner of four overall World Cup titles. She has 59 World Cup wins. She won downhill gold in Vancouver in 2010 and bronze in the super-G.
Vonn ripped up her right knee at the 2013 World Championships in Schladming, Austria; aiming for Sochi, she re-injured the same knee skiing in France last Dec. 21.
“Lindsey was a great downhiller,” Maze said after a news conference Tuesday when asked if it would have made a difference if Vonn had been at the 2014 Games. “I don’t know. She is not here. We are not thinking about that right now.”
She added, “For me, it’s always great if you have all athletes here and if you have this great sport fight.”
Embedded owg_slideshow: Sochi Olympics: Women's Giant Slalom Run 1
Vonn is such an overwhelmingly good downhill skier that she won last year’s World Cup downhill title — Maze came in second, one point behind — even though she obviously missed weeks of skiing. She had that many points in the bank. That 2013 title was Vonn’s sixth downhill championship.
Maze, meanwhile, racked up 2,414 points last season, an unheard-of number. Hermann Maier had put up 2,000, the prior record, in the 2000 season. 2,414? Maze won the giant slalom and super-G titles; finished second in slalom (her purported favorite) and, again, downhill; and also finished first in combined (though no globe was awarded). In 2000, Maier finished on the podium 22 times; Maze last season, 24.
This year, however, she started off un-Tina like. She struggled so badly that she felt compelled to hire a new coach just last month. It wasn’t until her 22nd race, a downhill on Jan. 25 in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, that she finally got her first victory of the season.
“This year’s plan,” she swore Tuesday, “was to show my best here,” at the Olympics.
Here, Maze won gold in the downhill (a tie with Switzerland’s Dominique Gisin), finished fourth in the super-combined, fifth in the super-G and, on Tuesday, won the giant slalom. That fourth and fifth? Each time she was a mere tenth of a second out of third.
Embedded video_content_type: Tina Maze: pop star, model, gold medalist
Starting No. 1 in the first run, she smoked the opening leg and then did just enough to hold on for victory by seven-hundredths of a second. Super-G gold medalist Anna Fenninger of Austria took second; 2010 giant-slalom gold medalist Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany got bronze, 27-hundredths back.
In Vancouver in 2010, Maze won silvers in the giant slalom and super-G in Vancouver in 2010.
Her Sochi golds make her the first skier since Marie-Theres Nadig of Switzerland did it in Sapporo in 1972 to show the skill and versatility with the speed it takes to win the downhill and the technician’s turns in the giant slalom.
“I’m trying to do my best,” she said. “I’m trying to be my best. As I have shown here, it’s not always easy. My goal was the Olympics this season.”
Asked again if she wished Vonn had been here, Maze played coy. “Isn’t she here? I heard she was here, with NBC?”
Told no, that Vonn was in the United States, Maze smiled and said, “Ah, she’s not here.” Then she said, “I wish she would be here — yeah.”
Embedded video_content_type: Alpine skiing gold medal mashup
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Best of Sochi