ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — For all the fuss in Tina Maze‘s home country about her farewell ski race on Saturday, it might not be her last race after all.
The two-time Olympic champion from Slovenia told The Associated Press on Thursday that she might reconsider her decision to retire.
“Of course, in human nature, there is always mind-changing,” the 33-year-old Maze said in Croatia where she attended a men’s World Cup race. “You can always change your mind. My body is not capable of 10 more years of skiing, but maybe two.”
After taking the full 2015-16 season off, Maze announced in October that she planned to quit the sport after competing in one final race, the giant slalom in her home country on Saturday. Maribor was also the venue of her World Cup debut at 15 in 1999.
After her year off, Maze said she felt she was forced into taking a decision about her future.
“Everybody was expecting my decision this year so I had to make a press conference and decide,” said Maze, who in 2014 won Slovenia’s first ever gold medal at the Winter Olympics by sharing victory in the Sochi downhill with Dominique Gisin of Switzerland. Six days later she also won gold in GS.
With the Pyeongchang Olympics in South Korea looming next year, Maze said she could be tempted to extend her career.
“It depends on all the other circumstances, it’s not depending just on me,” the four-time Olympian said without elaborating.
Asked by the AP about Maze’s thoughts on racing again, her Italian coach and boyfriend, Andrea Massi, said, “I support Tina. I don’t push her in one direction, this is Tina’s decision.”
Massi started working with Maze as a fitness coach in 2002. Six years later, they set up their own independent team, calling it the Team to aMaze.
“I have pushed Tina as a coach for 14 years, the last eight years as her chief trainer,” Massi said. “She has to be free (to decide) after 14 years.”
Several incidents have cast a shadow over Maze’s farewell race. Her start was in doubt following a sponsorship row with the Slovenian ski federation last month.
As the federation was not willing to pay her an appearance fee, both parties agreed she will wear a race suit without sponsor logos.
Also, Maze unsuccessfully tried to get injury status for the year she didn’t ski. That would have protected her ranking and allowed her a favorable start position in the top 15. Now she will have to start after the top 30 racers.
“Of course I am disappointed because I had some health problems which are not so easy,” Maze said. “I thought I would get an injury status and be able to start in the top 15. It’s not fair. It does matter for my principles and for what I believe in, and for what I thought was right. That’s for sure not right but it won’t stop me.”
Maze said she has had limited training ahead of her first race since March 2015.
“Just to ski a little bit in order not to come from zero to Maribor,” she said. “I just want to have fun, to enjoy it, to feel the same atmosphere that I feel here (in Zagreb).”
Maze, who set the record for most World Cup points in a single season as she won the overall title in 2013, has 26 World Cup victories, 81 podium results, and four world titles.Follow @nbcolympictalk