Tech time on the ladies tour: How many more victories for Maze?
After the Swiss and French weeks that followed the return from North America, the ladies are now off to a string of six tech events, starting mid this week in Are (SWE). The 2007 World Champs venue will be staging a slalom and giant slalom on Wednesday-Thursday before the racers may enjoy a well-deserved albeit short Christmas break. Right after the Holidays, they will be back on the racing slopes in Semmering, Austria, where yet another pair of tech events will be held not far from the capital city of Vienna.
The New Year will kick off with the 2nd edition of the parallel City Event on the Olympic Mountain in Munich (GER) which newly will also count for the slalom World Cup standings along with the overall World Cup standings. City slalom in Zagreb on the Sljeme Mountain near the Croatian capital will conclude the slightly over two week tech period with a total of 600 World Cup points up for grabs.
Slovenian Tina Maze has amassed a lead of 331 points over Austrian Kathrin Zettel and already boasts a season total of 799 points, more than anyone on the ladies' tour ever at this point in the season. Besides four back-to-back giant slalom wins, she has the top spot from the super combined in St Moritz. It is only in the downhill that the Slovenian has yet to make it better than 10th place this season as she also continues to hunt the missing super-G victory for her palmares. With that Maze would join the ranks of currently only five female racers who have won in each event during their World Cup careers: Petra Kronberger (AUT), Pernilla Wiberg (SWE), Janica Kostelic (CRO), Anja Pärson (SWE) and Lindsey Vonn.
We can expect a mighty battle between Maze and Zettel who too has five podiums this season so far. They could be challenged by Germany’s Maria Höfl-Riesch who has been skiing very consistently and sits in 3rd position in the overall rankings. And let’s not forget Marlies Schild (AUT), Tanja Poutiainen (FIN), the youngster Mikaela Shiffrin (USA), and the GS specialists Tessa Worley (FRA), Viktoria Rebensburg (GER) and Irene Curtoni (ITA) who can all stage a challenge for the top spots.
Missing in Are will be Vonn who is reported to have returned back to North America to celebrate the Holidays and to recover her strength, to only return in the New Year. Seemingly still ailing from her intestinal troubles in mid-November, Vonn collected 2 DNFs in the last two races in France and also had a major scare in the 2nd DH training in Val d'Isère.
Vonn wrote on her Facebook: "After talking with my family and consulting with my coaches and trainers, I have decided to take a break from the World Cup circuit. Since my intestinal infection last month, I have been struggling with my energy and strength. I believe that some time off the mountain will help me regain the physical strength that I require to compete at the level that I demand from myself. I want to be emphatic that this has nothing to do with my recent interview with People Magazine. I had completed that interview weeks before I was in the hospital with the intestinal infection."
The runner-up in last year’s DH rankings, Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather is skipping the trip to the North of Europe to allow her shinbone recover properly. Weirather had a nasty crash in the Lake Louise SG and while she returned to racing last week, she is not yet feeling 100% back to fitness.
Also missing in Are is Italy’s Federica Brignone who has been operated to remove a massive cyst from her posterior tibial tendon at the right ankle. She will need to rest for some 30 days before recommencing physical activity.