MARIBOR, Slovenia — Lindsey Vonn beat rival Tina Maze on the Slovenian’s home snow and in her best discipline Saturday, earning a surprising victory in a giant slalom and her second win in a week.
Maze still clinched her third giant slalom discipline title by placing second. Maze had a near-perfect first run, but a poor start to the second cost her valuable time and she finished 0.08 seconds behind Vonn.
Vonn proved again she’s back to her best after an intestinal illness landed her in the hospital two months ago, managing two good runs in what is traditionally her weakest event to win in 2 minutes, 22.2 seconds.
“In the second run I decided, OK, it’s all or nothing, I had to go for it,” Vonn said. “It’s been a rough year for me in GS, so it’s just perfect.”
Vonn was third after the first run but overcame several errors to have the fastest time in the second and create a margin that Maze couldn’t overcome. She earned her first GS victory since last March and back-to-back wins after taking the downhill last week at Cortina D’Ampezzo.
Vonn took nearly a month off over the holidays to recover from her illness. While her break allowed Maze to build an even bigger lead in the overall standings, Vonn said it’s clear she made the right decision.
“A couple of weeks ago, everyone was thinking I was crazy taking this time off,” Vonn said. “But I felt my body wasn’t ready. Now I am ready.”
With her 59th World Cup win overall, she’s just three away from equaling Annemarie Moser Proell’s record on the women’s side.
Austria’s Anna Fenninger was third, 0.57 seconds behind Vonn.
Maze’s closest rival in the GS, Kathrin Zettel, only managed sixth. Maze is 238 points ahead of Zettel with just two GS races remaining this season.
Maze also extended her lead in the overall standing to 748 points against her closest challenger, Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch, who finished fourth. Vonn stands another 66 points back in third, having missed several races while sidelined.
The 29-year-old Maze performed in front of a passionate home crowd and was 0.48 seconds ahead of Vonn after dominating the first run.
However, she ran wide at the start of the second, leaving her 0.13 seconds behind her rival at the first checkpoint. Despite the cheers of the fans urging her on, Maze couldn’t make up the time and finished with tears in her eyes.
While the overall World Cup title may be Maze’s to lose, Vonn will be a favorite to dominate next month’s world championships in Schladming, Austria.