Tina Maze ends WCup season with giant slalom win
LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland (AP) — Tina Maze got the anger out of her system Sunday, one day after her heartbreaking World Cup slalom title defeat to American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin.
Maze won the season-ending giant slalom race to complete the most statistically dominating year since the World Cup started in 1967.
Still, losing the World Cup slalom title to Shiffrin's thrilling second-run performance Saturday still burned for a skier who described herself as "addicted" to her sport.
"That's why I could put out some anger today," Maze, smiling again 24 hours after sobbing in the finish area, told reporters. "Yesterday, I had some disappointments. If I didn't do good today, I would not be 100 percent happy."
Maze performed her trademark celebration cartwheel in the finish area after first-run leader Tessa Worley of France fell 0.35 seconds behind her winning two-run time of 2 minutes, 16.67 seconds. Lara Gut of Switzerland was third, 1.38 back.
The Slovenian racer's 11th World Cup victory this season extended her record overall points total to 2,414. Austrian great Hermann Maier set a mark of 2,000 in the 1999-2000 season.
"I'm impressed, too," Maze said, when asked about her impressive year in a finish-area interview. "It was an amazing season for me. I started with a win and I finished with a win."
After crossing the finish line to set the fastest time, Maze twirled her right ski-pole above her head in excitement. It seemed an understandable release of emotion after two big setbacks here at World Cup finals week.
On Saturday, Maze's first-run slalom lead couldn't withstand Shiffrin astonishing victory run in their winner-take-all race for the discipline title. Maze cried with her head resting on her arm as Shiffrin displayed the crystal trophy.
Maze, who declined to speak with international media Saturday, revealed she had not known how fast Shiffrin was when she stood in the slalom start house as the last racer to go.
"I had a feeling I will be OK if I just come down," Maze said, acknowledging she had felt nerves. "And that was not good enough."
When the downhill was canceled on Wednesday, Maze was denied the chance to overhaul the injured Lindsey Vonn in the standings. At that stage, Maze was still aiming to sweep the season's World Cup titles.
There was disappointment Sunday for the 2011 overall World Cup champion, Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany. She appeared injured after skiing out in the first run and quickly left the venue.
Hoefl-Riesch was traveling to her home base in Kitzbuehel, Austria, for a diagnosis, German team spokesman Ralph Eder said in a text message to The Associated Press.
On a tricky snow surface for the GS race, Julia Mancuso of the United States was eighth, 2.47 behind Maze, and Shiffrin placed 11th, trailing by 3.58.
"I'm definitely tired," the 18-year-old Shiffrin told AP. "I put a lot on the line in the second run (on Saturday). It was emotionally exhausting."
Mancuso was the top American in the overall standings, in fourth place with 867 points. Shiffrin was fifth, 45 points behind her teammate.
Vonn, the four-time overall champion from 2008-10 and in 2012, ended eighth despite taking a midseason break and not racing after Feb. 5, when she ruptured right knee ligaments crashing in the world championships super-G race won by Maze.
The 29-year-old Maze's improvement was remarkable despite having finished second overall to Vonn one year ago, though without winning a race. Then, Vonn's 1,980 points was a women's record and Maze got 1,402.
Maze reeled off 11 wins this time, across all five events, and improved her points total by more than 1,000.
Her 24th top-3 finish in a World Cup race Sunday extended another record she took from Maier, who stood on the podium 22 times in his dominating 2000 season.
Maze also took three medals at the worlds in Schladming, Austria, super-G gold and silvers in giant slalom and super-combined. Looking ahead to next season, Maze pledged to be better in slalom.