Tina Maze made it two wins from the opening two races in the Women’s GS World Cup as she stormed to a devastating first run and then watched the rest of the field capitulate in the second as Kathrin Zettel and Victoria Rebensburg joined her on the podium. When Maze crossed the line at the end of the first run, a wopping 1.62 seconds ahead of Rebensburg, few could have doubted that she was on to a good thing. Fewer still would have believed that the German would still be in with a shout at the end of the run. Only one racer managed to live with the time that the Slovenian set on the first run, Anna Fenninger, and the Austrian destroyed the good work that she had done on the first run by skiing out after just four gates on the second run.
Aspen has not been blessed with a huge amount of snow so far this season. The racers were not afforded the luxury of a couple of training courses to warm up on and with the snow made up of artificial snow, conditions were hard from the off. Maze is quickly building up a healthy points tally with this second win and with Lindsey Vonn suffering from ailments that have required a hospital stay recently, these are valuable points in the race for the Crystal Globes. While Vonn made the flip for the second run, it was pure courage and mental strength that secured her 21st spot in the race, her first points of the season after having crashed out in Soelden and then not having made the trip to Levi for the slalom.
While all the talk in the pre-season had been of the new ski regulations, many fans have been put off the races by the lack of carving the racers can now be seen to be doing. The new skis need a lot of strength to get them working in the way that the racers need them to. Maze has spent a lot of the summer working hard in the gym and the strength is there for all to see. While many would argue that the new skis are a bad thing, the fact that racers will now need to be a lot fitter to use the skis quickly, this alone may help the racers to avoid injury – the reason for change of regulations FIS have pointed out. Many would counter this argument by saying that other factors like the height of the ski, the boots and course and snow design should have been looked at first before tinkering with the skis.
Taina Barioz from France put in a stormer of a second run to take the early lead and then held it. It took until Lara Gut came down for her to be dislodged form the leaders enclosure with nine to go. With the gap from the race leader in the finish to the racer in the start expanding with each starter, Barioz must have thought that her luck would be in and she might take it the whole way. The gap between Maze and Fenninger and the rest was just too large for her to hold on. Rebensburg, who at 1.62 behind the first run leader and in fourth spot, was the first to pass Gut and then Zettel posted an even faster time. Zettel had a gap of almost a second on her fellow Austrian but before Fenninger had got into her stride she was out. Like a number of racers before her, she failed to get her weight off her inside ski and was over – a mere four gates into the race.
With Zettel in the finish and Maze in the start, would the gap be big enough in the deteriorating light and snow conditions? Maze is a strong skier and although she lost time on her way down to Zettel, she had enough in the tank to hold out for her second win of the season to win by nine tenths of a second. With a batch of speed races coming up, maze will be hoping that Vonn does not get better too soon!