|(Sochi Games) Slovenian Maze tops giant slalom run, Mae brings up the rear
Slovenia's Tina Maze was in control of the women's giant slalom after the first run today in her hunt for a second gold of the Sochi Games.
Pop violinist Vanessa-Mae (Pictured) completed her first run with the slowest time of the 74 skiers who finished.
Nearly upright for most of the rainy course before crouching into the tuck position for the final gates, she finished in 1 minute, 44.86 seconds _ 26.98 seconds behind leader Maze, AFP reports.
She did better than the 15 racers who did not finish their runs.
Maze tied with Dominique Gisin for gold in last week's downhill, and the 30-year-old Slovenian showed her prowess in rainy, warm conditions on the Rosa Khutor course to clock 1minute 17.88 seconds.
First out of the start gate, Maze made the most of a largely unrutted piste, further confirming that her hard-nosed decision to switch coaches to Mauro Pini just a month before the Olympics was paying off.
Only four racers got within a second of Maze's time down the first run: Sweden's Jessica Lindell-Vikarby, the current World Cup giant slalom standings leader, was at 0.52sec, followed by Italian Nadia Fanchini (+0.65sec), Austria's recently crowned super-G gold medallist Anna Fenninger (0.85) and American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin (0.91).
Defending Olympic champion in the discipline, Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg, was next at 1.36 sec, but her teammate Maria Hoefl-Riesch was a late withdrawal, the super-combined winner at the Sochi Games complaining of 'flu-like health conditions.
Shiffrin, crowned world slalom champion at the age of 17 last year, is attempting to become the youngest American to win an Olympic gold medal in alpine skiing – she's now 18, and she admitted feeling some nerves.
“I was nervous at the start, but when I was in the gate I wasn't, I just wanted to ski,'' Shiffrin said. “The surface is pretty good. It's a lot of fun. You just can't push too hard on the turns because it's rainy.
“I pushed the line a little bit too much on the flats... I've just got to loosen up my legs and go for it.''—AFP