AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Published — Wednesday 6 February 2013
Last update 7 February 2013 1:54 am
SCHLADMING, Austria: Slovenia’s Tina Maze won super-G gold here yesterday in an opening world championship race that came close to being canceled due to fog and was overshadowed by a bad crash involving US ski star Lindsey Vonn.
Current World Cup leader Maze finished with a time of 1min 35.39sec, ahead of Switzerland’s Lara Gut at 0.38sec and American Julia Mancuso in third place at 0.52sec.
The race, which started three and a half hours late due to thick fog, nevertheless finished on a sour note after Vonn crashed and had to be airlifted to a nearby hospital.
The 28-year-old two-time world champion and Olympic gold-medallist landed on the side of her ski after a jump and flipped over before crashing into a safety gate, even as she was leading the race.
Austrian television reported she suffered complex knee injuries and would be unable to race for the rest of the season.
The start of yesterday’s super-G had had to be delayed repeatedly by the organizers due to thick fog, which seriously limited visibility and made racing down the course, where athletes can reach a speed of 120kph, highly dangerous.
Scheduled to start at 11:00am (1000GMT), it only went ahead at 2:30pm.
But some fog continued to hinder the racers even after the start, including Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg, who had been a firm favorite but finished eighth.
Top contenders Anna Fenninger of Austria and 2011 world bronze medallist Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany also went out during the tricky course.
Maze, who has had a sensational season and leads the super-G as well as overall World Cup rankings, let out a scream, kissed her ski and flashed a beaming smile after an impressive run down the 2,194-meter Planai course.
“World championships are always something special and you have to stay focused.”
“I was certain we would race today, 100 percent,” she said with a laugh, adding “I had a good run.”
“You need a little luck, but I know I’m racing well, I’ll try everything,” the 29-year-old added about securing further medals in Schladming, where she is one of the favorites.
Mancuso, taking her second silver medal after Garmisch in 2011, was pleased with her result.
“That was exciting, I think it’s always really nice to win a medal. Of course I know I could have had a better run but I’m always smiling with a medal.”
She admitted the repeated delays and long waiting had made it harder to race on Tuesday.
“But you have to be ready when you leave the gate and you never know what can happen.”
Two-time Olympic champion Hoefl-Riesch, 28, said she also struggled to keep her focus during the long waiting periods.
“I’m disappointed of course but... I’m glad I came down in one piece on such a crazy day where so much has happened,” she said.
Reigning super-G and downhill champion Elisabeth Goergl of Austria, who has suffered poor form this season, had to settle for 11th place.
The race — the first of 11 during the two-week ski fest — was further plagued by interruptions, as a course worker fell and had to be airlifted after barely eight skiers had gone down.
The super-G was eventually interrupted for good at 4:00pm although 23 skiers had yet to run.
The result nevertheless stands as it is, with Maze taking the first gold medal of the 2013 world championships.