Tina Maze ends drought in Cortina d’Ampezzo

Tina Maze
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At last, Tina Maze returned to a familiar position — the top of the podium — two weeks before the Sochi Olympics.

The Slovenian skiing and singing sensation won a World Cup downhill in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, on Saturday, her long-awaited first victory of the season after unprecedented domination last year.

“There were a lot of emotions,” Maze said, according to The Associated Press. “It was a really long time. … When I find the right feeling like I found it today I can ski fast.”

Maze prevailed in 1 minute, 37.79 seconds in the Italian Dolomites, beating Swiss Marianne Kaufman-Abderhalden by .27. Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather was third, followed by German World Cup overall leader Maria Hoefl-Riesch in fourth.

The top Americans were Stacey Cook and Julia Mancuso in fifth and seventh, their second straight day in the top 10 as they continue to improve from a slow start to the season.

“This week has been a perfect preparation for the Olympics,” Mancuso said, according to the U.S. Ski Team. “I couldn’t be in a better place right now, and I am excited I was able to come out of that valley and be ready to fight for medals.”

But the day belonged to Maze, a broken record phrase last season.

How dominant was Maze in 2012-13? Here are some stats:

*Led the overall standings from wire to wire over 35 races.
*Finished first or second in all five race disciplines.
*Made the podium a record 24 times in one season.
*Shattered the record for most points in a season with 2,414 (Hermann Maier had 2,000).
*Had more than twice as many points as second place (Hoefl-Riesch).
*Shattered the record for margin of victory with 1,313 (Maier had 743).

All of which made it shocking it took Maze until the 22nd race for her maiden win of the follow-up season. She didn’t free fall, but she was clearly not in form the first couple months, making three podiums over the first 12 races.

“It’s always difficult after that kind of season [in 2012-13],” Maze told Reuters recently. “I know I’m in the best shape of my career even if I’m not showing it.

Two weeks ago, Maze announced she split with Italian coach Walter Ronconi and replaced him with Swiss Mauro Pini. Ronconi was not the coach responsible for Maze’s rise to Alpine’s zenith. He had replaced Livio Magoni, who left after last season for a spot with the Italian women’s team.

Maze’s boyfriend, Andrea Massi, still oversees Maze and is labeled as the head coach or team manager in various reports.

Now, Maze can take confidence into not only the remaining World Cup races (beginning with a super-G in Cortina on Sunday) but also Sochi.

Lindsey Vonn‘s absence leaves an opening for a new woman to become an Olympic star. Maze, 30, will be going to her fourth Games, already owning silver medals from the 2010 Olympic super-G and giant slalom.

She has the talent to win medals in all five Olympic races and put pressure on Mikaela Shiffrin in slalom, though that is her weakest event.

Cortina d’Ampezzo Downhill
1. Tina Maze (SLO) 1:37.79
2. Marianne Kaufmann-Abderhalden (SUI) 1:38.06
3. Tina Weirather (LIE) 1:38.17
4. Maria Hoefl-Riesch (GER) 1:38.33
5. Anna Fenninger (AUT) 1:38.35
5. Stacey Cook (USA) 1:38.35
7. Julia Mancuso (USA) 1:38.42
8. Dominique Gisin (SUI) 1:38.46
9. Nicole Schmidhofer (AUT) 1:38.52
10. Lara Gut (SUI) 1:38.58

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Valencia Marathon produces historic times in men’s, women’s races

2022 Valencia Marathon
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Kenyan Kelvin Kiptum and Ethiopian Amane Beriso won the Valencia Marathon and became the third-fastest man and woman in history, respectively.

Kiptum, a 23-year-old in his marathon debut, won the men’s race in 2 hours, 1 minute, 53 seconds. The only men to ever run faster over 26.2 miles are legends: Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge (2:01:09 world record, plus a 2:01:39) and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele (2:01:41).

Kipchoge made his marathon debut at age 28, and Bekele at 31.

Beriso, a 31-year-old whose personal best was 2:20:48 from January 2016, stunned the women’s field Sunday by running 2:14:58. The only women to have run faster: Kenyans Brigid Kosgei (2:14:04) and Ruth Chepngetich (2:14:18).

Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey finished second in 2:16:49, the fastest-ever time for a woman in her marathon debut. Gidey is the world record holder at 5000m and 10,000m.

Valencia is arguably the top annual marathon outside of the six World Marathon Majors. The next major marathon is Tokyo on March 5.

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill

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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It’s been a tough week,” Kilde said after the race. “I caught the flu in Lake Louise after a very, very nice weekend. It really hit me hard. Then I got a couple of days to rest and take it easy. … I felt OK. Still feeling it a little bit in my system.”

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

ALPINE SKIING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

“I found a really, really good set-up with my equipment and also with my skiing,” Kilde explained. “I believe in myself. I trust in myself. I have a good game plan. When I stand on the start, I don’t dwell on anything. I know that this plan is what I do and when I do that it’s going to be fast.”

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. He was ninth in the downhill in Lake Louise.

“It’s been solid,” Cochran-Siegle said of his strides in the discipline. “A couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three. You have to ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon, in a sense. Today was a good step.”

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

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