Maze wins Super Combined in St Moritz

Tina Maze heated up the cold conditions in the Swiss resort of St Moritz to take a firm grip on the Overall World Cup standings. Maze lead after the Super G leg and then held a firm line on the slalom run to wrap up the win. This was maze’s 14th World Cup win, her third this season already and the second  in the Super Combined. Niki Hosp produced a stunning Slalom section of the race to back up her Super G and take second with her compatriot Kathrin Zettel in third.

The race the speed section of the race blighted by poor visibility and a number of racers, including Lindsey Vonn, were hit hard by this. Racers need to see well when they are travelling fast and when the light is flat and you cannot see the terrain and the rolls, then the body automatically holds back. Vonn had hoped to put in a fast Super G leg that would set her up for the Slalom but as it turned out Maze had the fastest Super G ahead of Lara Gut. Gut has a special relationship with St Moritz. Not only is she Swiss but this was where she scored her first podium and also her first win. With the quality of racer in the Women’s World Cup Super Combined these days, she would have to go some to beat the rest to win.

With the top eleven racers after the Super G separated by less than eight tenths of a second, the slalom was going to be all or bust for many of the racers. Marie Michele Gagnon from Canada was the early standout as she blitzed the slalom after having been in 26th spot in the Super G. Gagnon is a technical racer yet this was by far and away her most promising result in the Super Combined since the tour was last in St Moritz (where she finished one place higher). As many of the faster Super G racers came and went failing to post faster combined times, Gagnon made herself comfortable in the leaders enclosure. With the fastest eleven to go, she was still there.

It took a solid run by Slalom specialist, Lena Duerr from Germany to dislodge Gagnon from the lead. Duerr had hardly had time to put her coat on and Kathrin Zettel had dislodged her from the lead. Lizzi Goergl, more a speed specialist but still accomplished on the slalom skis, failed to better the time set by her compatriot. Seven to go. Niki Hosp has 11 World Cup wins to her name but the last of them was back in 2008 in Maribor in a slalom. Since then she has been injured and things have not been good. Having placed sixth in the Super G, an event she has won in the past, at the World Cup Finals in Are, Sweden in 2006, Hosp put in the fourth fastest slalom run to make it an Austrian 1 – 2 in the finish but still with five to go.

Anna Fenninger was next up and the World Super Combined Champion from the Garmish World Championships in 2011 was not able to live with the pace and slide down the results. Worse was to happen to Julia Mancuso and she would slide out of the top ten finishers. When Lindsey Vonn crashed out in the Slalom, the battle for the Overall points suddenly hotted up. If Maze could hold on for the win, this would be a healthy bonus for the Slovenian with Vonn scoring zero points.

Maria Hoefl-Riesch, a World Cup Slalom winner this season, was unable to do better than third in the finish and then Lara Gut slotted in just behind her. This left Tina Maze at the start knowing that a win was certainly in her grasp if she could ski a solid slalom run. What she did was superb: She skied the fastest slalom run of all racers to not just win the 100 points but destroy the rest of the field. The race for the Overall is definitely on.

There may be no Crystal Globe for the Super Combined but this was exciting and great racing. Rarely do you see tech racers doing speed events and then the speed racers doing the slalom boards. It is sad that the speed skiers, especially if they have not done well in the speed section, not taking part in the slalom but that is life.

For Chemmy Alcott the Super G was not a good day. By her own admission, she struggles in the bad light and after the high’s of scoring World Cup points in her first race back, this was, she admitted, a hard day at the office. Not only does she have to work on making sure the leg does not hurt, but she also has to work with her head. It is small steps that she realises that she needs to take. Frustration was the name of the game and she admitted to shedding a tear or two after the race in frustration at not being able to do what she knows she is capable of. There will be more days like this but the days when the good things happen will feel so much sweeter to her.

So Maze takes a 100 point jump on Vonn in the race for the Overall Globe but we are barely into December, it is a long season and turning into a very exciting one. Keep watching!

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