SKIING - WOMEN'S WORLD CUP

Slovenia's Tina Maze wins giant slalom on home snow

Slovenia's Tina Maze delighted home crowd with her first win in nearly a year. She claimed the Maribor giant slalom victory ahead of Italy's Denise Karbon, who led after the morning run but had to settle for second place.

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REUTERS - Tina Maze, helped by the support of Slovenian fans, rediscovered her old flair to win a World Cup giant slalom on home snow on Saturday.

 

Despite five previous top-10 places this season, Maze had not won a race in nearly a year, since she became the first skier from her country to win a downhill with victory in St Moritz.

 

Saturday's win, in a two-leg time of two minutes 45.15 seconds, revived fine memories for Maze who won a giant slalom on her home piste in her best year, 2005.

 

Since then, personal problems and difficult relations with her team had seen her slump.

 

"I had wings today in front of my home crowd. I already won here three years ago but this is special because it's like the light at the end of the tunnel," she said.

 

"This is even more important than last year's win in St Moritz because then I was helped by changing weather conditions," added Maze, who changed skis this season and left the Slovenian team to train on her own.

 

Her seventh World Cup victory came at the expense of Italy's defending giant slalom World Cup champion Denise Karbon, who led after the morning run but had to settle for second place, 0.39 seconds behind Maze.

 

Karbon, who won five out of seven giant slaloms last season, had previously not made it on to the podium this winter, often faltering in the second leg.

 

A little too conservative this time, she was unable to match Maze's pace in the second run.

 

"Of course I would have loved to win but this is a great relief because I had lots of physical problems at the start of the season and this proves that I can still perform at the best level and win races," Karbon said.

 

Germany's Kathrin Hoelzl was third for only her second World Cup podium, 0.92 seconds adrift.

 

"The whole of the German team is on a roll with Maria (Riesch) doing so well and I'm glad to start fulfilling my promise," she said.

 

Despite finishing 12th, Riesch retained the lead in the overall World Cup standings on 629 points, ahead of Finn Tanja Poutiainen, who was fourth.

 

In Sunday's slalom on the same piste, Riesch will go for her fourth successive victory in the discipline.

 

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