Maze wins super-G gold; Vonn hospitalized after crash

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Associated Press
2/5/2013 1:31:37 PM
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SCHLADMING, Austria -- Tina Maze became the first Slovenian skier to win a world championship gold medal in a speed event on Tuesday, taking the opening women's super-G in a race that was overshadowed by an ugly crash involving Lindsey Vonn.

The American tore ligaments in her right knee and will miss the rest of the season. Vonn lost balance while landing after a jump and was taken to a hospital by helicopter.

Maze won the race in all-attacking style in 1 minute, 35.39 seconds, beating Lara Gut of Switzerland by 0.38. Julia Mancuso of the United States came 0.52 behind in third.

"The gold medal means a lot to me," said Maze, who is having a standout season in the World Cup and is quickly closing in on the overall title. "I had a great run. Slovenia is a small country and has so many great athletes. That makes me really happy."

The race had been delayed by 3 1/2 hours because of thick fog hanging over the course, and was called off after 36 racers because new clouds of fog were moving in. The results stand as the top-30 racers had started their run.

"I was prepared for a long day," said Maze, who now has four world championship medals. "World championships are special, you have to stay focused. I knew we would race today despite all the delays."

The Slovenian called the race "not easy." Days of snow and rain had affected the course and softened the surface especially in the lower part. The evening before the race, FIS women's race director Atle Skaardal called it an "extreme situation." The fog further complicated matters.

The clouds caused poor visibility in the middle section, the steepest part of the 2.19-kilometre Streicher course where skiers race at up to 100 kph (62 mph).

Organizers repeatedly delayed the start, which was initially scheduled for 1000 GMT. Clouds finally moved after three hours. Despite light snowfall and rain setting in, the race was started.

Several racers struggled with the changing conditions, with favourites like Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany and Anna Fenninger of Austria missing gates and failing to finish, and Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany coming 0.94 off the leading time in eighth.

"It was OK," Maze replied when being asked whether the race should have been started. "World championship races often have special conditions. The mistakes from the girls were not because of the slope."

Mancuso wasn't fully satisfied with the run that earned her a fifth world championship medal, two years after winning silver in super-G in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

"It's always really nice to win a medal but of course I know I could have a better run," the American said. "It was not a perfect run. My brain shut off halfway down the course so that's why I had some mistakes but I knew I was going fast. This was the kind of course on which you have to be on the limit."

Mancuso said it was "really hard" to race after Vonn, who started three racers earlier, had crashed.

"I didn't see it on TV," said Mancuso, who was in the start gate preparing for her run when the incident happened. "Hopefully she's OK."

Vonn fell after a long jump, her ski came off immediately, and she slid off course and hit a gate before coming to a halt.

The four-time overall World Cup champion received medical treatment on the slope for 12 minutes before being taken to the hospital. She left for the team hotel later Tuesday.

"Vonn suffered a torn ACL and MCL in her right knee and a lateral tibial plateau fracture," the U.S. ski team said in a statement.

Vonn trailed Maze by 0.12 seconds shortly before the crash. The race continued after another 15-minute delay.

Gut had two mistakes in the turning middle part that slowed her down but attacked the bottom part for a strong finish to earn her third world championship medal -- all in silver. She took second in downhill and super-combined at the 2009 event in Val d'Isere, France, when she became the youngest Swiss skier to medal at 18.

"It's fantastic to come second," Gut said. "My run was poor, I was too late at many turns and was surprised with my time."

After eight starters, the race was interrupted for 15 minutes following a crash by a course worker, who needed to be taken off the course by helicopter. He was brought to the hospital with a broken nose.

The men's super-G is scheduled for Wednesday and could also be affected by weather conditions as overnight snowfall was forecast.

Tina Maze (Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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