Maze wins 2nd gold after mid-season coach swap
By Luke Phillips ,AFP
February 19, 2014, 12:13 am TWN
ROSA KHUTOR, Russia -- Tina Maze sealed a second gold of the Sochi Games on Tuesday, inspired by the Slovenian ice-hockey team and vindicating a change of coaches just a month before the Olympics started.
Maze showed all her expertise to master the two runs of the women's giant slalom in 2 minutes 36.87 seconds the cornerstone coming in her no-holds-barred first run that gave her a crucial 0.52 second advantage over her closest rival.
In tricky weather conditions that featured torrential rain, thick snow and patchy fog, Austrian super-G gold medalist Anna Fenninger won silver, with defending champion Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany taking bronze.
For Maze, who shared downhill gold with Switzerland's Dominique Gisin in Sochi, the victory was a true vindication of her decision to split from erstwhile coach Walter Ronconi.
Maze dominated the 2012-13 World Cup with a record 24 podiums and 11 wins, also claiming a gold and two silvers at the world championships in Schladming.
But this year's World Cup campaign had gone into freefall, leaving the 30-year-old Slovenian no other option but to take the plunge in January and hire Swiss veteran Mauro Pini as her new coach.
"This season's plan was to show my best here. My focus in training was on the Olympic Games," said Maze, who won two silvers, in super-G and giant slalom, at the 2010 Vancover Games.
"I knew I had to come here in the best shape. When you don't have the right motivation you cannot show your best performances. I had a big win to show my best.
"I came here with five chances to win a medal. I missed my chance in combined and super-G by four hundredths of a second. I knew it would turn my way tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Life is like that."
Maze added that she had also been inspired between runs by the 4-0 victory of Slovenia over Austria in the men's ice-hockey, ensuring her compatriots a quarter-final berth against Sweden.
"It's a great day for the whole Slovenian Olympic team," she beamed. "I was watching the hockey between runs and the guys were playing so well and gave me a will to win. There was great energy in the team."
Maze insisted that the weather conditions had not affected the day's racing.