SOELDEN, Austria – Tina Maze is the winner of the opening Giant Slalom in Soelden! After keeping her cool through two postponements of the start time, Maze skied a great second run. The GS World Champion from 2011 held on to her leading position from the first run and triumphed in the first race of the 2012/13 season in front of more than 9.000 excited spectators. With a time of 2 minutes, 31.41 seconds, she was 1.56 seconds faster than Kathrin Zettel who managed to move up from her fourth place in the first run. The surprise of the day came from Zettel’s teammate Stefanie Koehle, with an outstanding second run. Koehle skied the second fastest time of the second run and earned her first careers’ podium in front of a cheering home crowd. The second run proved to be tough for the second ranked from the first run, Tessa Worley and third ranked Viktoria Rebensburg, both failing to finish the race.
A breathless Maze walked into the leaders box just minutes after racing what she described as the hardest race she ever competed in. With today’s victory, Maze joins Hermann Maier as the only three-time winner of Soelden.
“That was crazy, so though to ski, my body was all around the course and even though in the first run I had such an amazing feeling, the second one was just a fight. But I am glad I fought that hard, gave it all I could and I am so happy I managed to hold on to my lead. I had a good lead from the first run, and that is why I was trying to be more relaxed even if I was making some mistakes – normally I would panic. I am learning and that is good, it was a taught race today. I even crashed today when warming up, that’s how little light there was.”
Kathrin Zettel skied the fastest time of the second run, and with Worley and Rebensburg out of the race half the way down the course, she was able to once again find her place on the podium: “I am happy with my run today in this tough visibility. It’s a good season start. I don’t think too far ahead towards Schladming yet but take it step by step, race by race.”
Stefanie Koehle was really happy.
“My goal was to land on the podium one time this season and I already did it in the first race. I am excited about today and to see what the future brings this season." she said at the press conference.
Swiss speed skier Dominique Gisin moved form bib 28 into fourth position, her best so far and could hardly believe how well she skied.
“It’s crazy! I wouldn’t have thought I could get this close to the podium. The slope and weather conditions were tough today which makes me even more happy I achieved this result”, a happy Gisin said after the race.
Last year’s winner Lindsey Vonn was struggling hard in the second run and eventually joined the DNF group. When skiing out, she hit her hand but luckily no serious injury occurred. After the race she stated: “ After last year’s win, I put a lot of pressure on myself. But, I didn’t push hard enough this time especially in those though conditions. In general though, I am very positive for this season’s races.”
Even though she didn't finish, Viktoria Rebensburg kept a positive attitude.
“Conditions were really hard but Tina Maze managed to get down which showed that it was possible to race toady. I am hoping to achieve much better results in the coming races. I really like the slope in Soelden so I am quite unhappy but there are better days to come!”
by Ana Jelusic and Melanie Strauch