Tina Maze took the win and a reindeer in Levi, high above the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom-Alain Grosclaude)
The start of the 2014-15 slalom season began in Levi, Finland, with all eyes on defending overall slalom champ and Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin, but it was 2013 overall winner Tina Maze who surprised many – and stole the show.
Maze, who started with bib 13, skied a flawless first run to overtake then-leader Frida Hansdotter and held on after a bobble on the pitch in the second run to take the win.
“I’m really happy I managed to finally finish the first run in first position and end up that way; that was always hard for me, and today I made it,” said Maze. “It’s good to be here to have this time to get ready for slalom. The hill was just super nice, and I gave my best so I’m really happy.”
Maze, whose results following her record-breaking season in 2013 have oftentimes been puzzling, had a disappointing 22nd-place result in Soelden to open the World Cup season. She clearly rebounded quickly with her decisive wire-to-wire win today. Charging out of the gate on run one, linking clean, quick turns across the long flat, Maze carried that skiing all the way down the pitch to the finish. Her second run was much of the same as she built on her lead at the first interval, but a mistake mid-way down the pitch made it appear that she might have trouble holding onto her lead. She recovered quickly and was able to make a fast transition from the steep to flat and finish for her fourth career slalom win.