Maze takes giant slalom win in Åre
Åre, Sweden – Back from North-America, the whole World Cup tour headed to Åre in Sweden for an intense and long weekend of technical racing events. Åre was selected to welcome both the men and the ladies after the races, originally scheduled in Val d'Isère and Courchevel, got cancelled, due to the lack of snow and warm temperatures in central Europe.
A very experienced organising committee in conjunction with a volunteer base full of motivation was key in getting everything ready on such short notice to host four races in three days. Åre has been organising World Cups since 1969, mostly ladies' races, and hosted World Championships in 1954 and 2007. The Scandinavian ski resort will also be the stage of the 2019 World Championships.
The ladies got the ball rolling with the third giant slalom race of the season which was dominated by Slovenia's Tina Maze. Giant slalom Olympic champion, who was seventh after the first run, clocked the fastest time in the second run despite a mistake halfway down the course to win her third victory this season. Maze finished in a combined time of 2:23.84, with Sweden's Sara Hector ending up in second place, 0.20 seconds behind. Austria's Eva-Maria Brem led after the first run but settled for third, 0.28 seconds back.
Tina Maze has already won a slalom (Levi) and a downhill (Lake Louise) World Cup race this season. The victory on Friday was her career fourteenth in giant slalom.
“I am really surprised that I could put such a run together today, coming back from Canada only a few days ago,” confessed Maze right after the race. “Today I was walking around fast asleep”, she even joked. “When you're jet-lagged, you make some mistakes and you have to take them. I was trying to ski down fast and I made it. Overall I am skiing great so I am really happy with today's race.”
The other outstanding performance of the day came from the 22-year-old Sara Hector who raced to her first World Cup podium. Her former personal best was a fifth place in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee super combined last season. The Swede managed to finish second in the first run with bib 25 and carried her pace into the second run.
“The conditions here are amazing so it is the same for everybody,” said Hector. “It's been a great race. It's nice to have my teammates around me. We have such a really great team and it is amazing to be part of it.”
In addition to her third place in Sölden and the victory in Aspen, Eva-Maria Brem has now landed three podiums out of three giant slalom races.
“It's always great to be on the podium,” said Brem. “I tried to fully attack and I made some little mistakes but in the end I am very happy."
Brem increased her lead in the giant slalom standings. She has now 220 points, 54 points more than Mikaela Shiffrin, who finished 10th today and 58 points more than Anna Fenninger, who took sixth.
“This is what you wish for, when you are training so hard,” Brem added. “Everything woks out well for me and I hope that it will continue like that this season.”
It is the men's turn to race now. The first run is scheduled for 16:00 CET.
Here are the full results