Maze wins second Sochi gold
The four-time Olympic medallist and most successful Slovenian Olympian of all-time, held on to her advantage from the morning's first run, althoughAnna FENNINGER (AUT) went desperately close to snatching her second gold medal in four days. Defending giant slalom champion Viktoria REBENSBURG (GER) won bronze.
FENNINGER, fourth quickest in the first run, defied the driving rain to post a time of 2 minutes and 36.94 seconds. MAZE was under pressure right from the start of her run, her 0.85 second advantage down to 0.61 seconds by the first intermediate split. Understandably tighter than in the morning's smooth run, MAZE lost time on the Austrian all the way down before a desperate lunge for the finish saw her grab gold by a margin of 0.07 seconds, finishing in 2:36.87.
REBENSBURG, whose Vancouver 2010 gold was her first win in any event in a major international race, clearly enjoys the Olympic spotlight. The German threw off a disappointing 2013/14 season in which she has suffered from a persistent lung disease and finished on the podium just once in a world cup race. She was quickest on the second run (1:17.90), climbing from sixth in the morning into third.
The day, however, belonged to the 30-year-old from Slovenia, who is quietly writing a remarkable story with just the odd whoop and cheer to indicate the magnitude of her achievements.
"I have dreamed about a day like this, even though it is raining," said MAZE, the 2011 giant slalom world champion and 2013 giant slalom silver medallist. "I feel a little wet but that is fine - I won the race. I don't care about the rain. Even though it's not perfect weather it was perfect racing."
It is rapidly turning into a perfect Games for MAZE. She has won two gold medals, the first in the downhill, as well as finishing fourth in the super combined and fifth in the super G. If she can finish inside the top 10 in Friday evening's slalom, she will overtake Maria HOEFL-RIESCH (GER) in terms of the most complete performance by a female skier at a single Olympic Games.
Such form is reminiscent of her wonder 2012/13 season. Out of 35 world cup races that campaign, MAZE won 11 and finished on the podium a remarkable 24 times. Unsurprisingly, given such statistics, she won the overall title and the giant slalom, super G and super combined titles, finishing second in the downhill and slalom standings.
FENNINGER is also proving the value of being a true all-rounder. Fresh from winning gold in the super G on Saturday 15 February, the 24-year-old has now added a silver medal to an eighth place in the super combined. Only a ski out in the downhill blemishes her record.
"I'm stoked and I'm really stoked for my second run," said FENNINGER. "If someone had said to me 'you can go and win two medals', I would have said 'that would be nice'. After the first [run], I knew at the start I'd have to take a lot of risks. And I did."
The start of the giant slalom was delayed by a snow flurry and by the time REBENSBURG lined up heavy rain had settled in. But it would have needed more than that to put off the 24-year-old.
"It was the same conditions in the first run and the second run for each racer, so, for me, it's kind of like a fair race," said the German bronze medallist.
"Of course I wanted a medal, but I was really close to one. It's just down to a couple of turns where I didn't go as fast as the others. This is my first Olympics out of the way, so I am excited to be here," said the 2013 slalom world champion.
HOEFL-RIESCH, the three-time Olympic gold medallist, pulled out before the start with a sore throat. She is expected to defend her slalom title on Friday evening.