Remember all the drama last March when American alpine ski racing star Lindsey Vonn was making a run at the all-time single-season World Cup point record?
Vonn ultimately fell just shy of the record, stymied by weather-caused race cancelations in her specialties, but she captured her fourth World Cup overall title with 1,980 points, to 1,402 for women’s runner-up Tina Maze of Slovenia.
This year with Vonn having an injury-plagued season, it was Maze’s turn to make a quiet but very determined run at the point scoring record.
On Saturday, Maze won an Audi FIS World Cup women’s downhill race at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany to eclipse Austrian Hermann Maier's single-season World Cup point record and become the third woman in World Cup history to win in all five disciplines in the same season.
Maze, 30, has boosted her 2012-13 World Cup point total to a record 2,074, eclipsing Maier's record of 2,000 points that has stood since the year 2000.
It was Maze’s first downhill win this season, and she has one super giant slalom victory. But Maze also won the first four giant slaloms this season and she owns a slalom victory and two super combined wins in addition to numerous podiums in all the disciplines.
Maze and the other World Cup women have chances to add to their point totals when the “regular season” tour wraps up March 9-10 with giant slalom and slalom at Ofterschwang, Germany.
One of the closest discipline races is in slalom, where American teen Mikaela Shiffrin leads second-place Maze 528-495 going into the homestretch.
In the women’s overall standings Maze leads with 2,074 points, Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch has 1,050, third-place Anna Fenninger of Austria has 884 and fourth-place Julie Mancuso of the U.S. Ski Team has 803. Shiffrin currently stands in eighth place with 638 points.
The men's World Cup tour now moves to Kranjska Gora, Slovenia for a giant slalom and a slalom March 9-10. U.S. technical racing star Ted Ligety, 28, of Park City, Utah is the defending giant slalom winner in Kranjska Gora and has won at the resort four times.
Ligety has finished on the podium of all six World Cup giant slalom races this season with four victories and two third places. He leads the giant slalom discipline standings 520-415 over Austrian Marcel Hirscher.
Hirscher leads the overall World Cup standings with 1,215 points to 1,186 for Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal. Ligety stands in third place with 809 just 11 points ahead of fourth-place Felix Neureuther of Germany.
Speed races for women at Garmisch
Laurenne Ross (Bend, OR) became the sixth U.S. Ski Team women's speed athlete to finish in the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup top three this season with a stunning second in the Garmisch downhill Saturday.
With her career-first podium, Ross also became the fourth U.S. woman to land her first World Cup podium this season, joining teammates Stacey Cook (Mammoth Mountain, CA), Leanne Smith (N. Conway, NH) and Alice McKennis (Glenwood Springs, CO).
Ross said, “I really have no idea where I was in the standings before today. I didn’t want to look. I didn’t want to know. I just knew that I had to be fast. So I just put it all out on the line and I’m psyched. I’m so happy that I made it and I got on the podium and that I’m going to the finals for downhill too.”
Head coach Alex Hoedlmoser said, “At the beginning of the year we set a goal to have every one of these speed athletes on the podium this season. That’s a huge accomplishment and it is something we all can be really proud of.”
World Championship super giant slalom bronze medalist Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CA) was third Sunday in the final super G of the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup “regular season.” It was Mancuso’s 15th career SG podium, moving her into ninth place on the all-time SG podium list.
Mancuso finished just ahead of discipline leader Tina Maze of Slovenia to push the title to the final race of the year. Maze leads Mancuso by 55 points 420-365 with a maximum of 100 super G points up for grabs at the March 11-17 World Cup Finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
Austrian Anna Fenninger won Sunday’s race pushing local favorite Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany to second.
It was Mancuso's fifth super G podium of the season and second in three days at Garmisch. She was second in the first SG Friday. Mancuso, Smith and Ross will represent the U.S. Ski Team in super G at World Cup Finals, where only the top 25 qualify.
Mancuso said, “I am happy to be on the podium, just trying my best every day. I am enjoying it with the sun out. I wish I could have gained some more points on her (Maze). I need all the luck on my side. I need to win the (last) race and then anything can happen.”
On Friday, Julia Mancuso solidified herself as a contender for the 2013 Audi FIS Alpine World Cup super G title after tying for second Friday with overall leader Tina Maze of Slovenia. Tina Weirather won to become only the second woman from Liechtenstein to claim a World Cup victory since her mother Hanni Wenzel won in 1984.
Squaw Valley racer Mancuso said after Friday’s SG, “I want to win races so I’m going to fight for that first. I feel like in order to get a super G title you should win a race so that’s my first goal. And if I hit that goal, then I should have a good chance at staying in there for the chase.
“I really like Garmisch. It’s a little steeper and more technical than most hills we see all year, so I was pretty happy when I heard they were moving the canceled Val d’Isere race here.”
Men at Kvitfjell, Norway
Travis Ganong, another Squaw Valley product, led the U.S. Ski Team with a tie for 16th on a wind-ravaged Audi FIS Alpine World Cup downhill in Kvitfjell on Saturday.
Frenchman Adrien Theaux edged World Cup downhill leader Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway for the win on a shortened race course due to the high winds. It was the final downhill before the March 11-17 World Cup Finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
Only the top 25 racers in each discipline qualify for World Cup Finals. Ganong, Marco Sullivan (Squaw Valley, CA) and Steven Nyman (Sundance, UT) are all top 25 for the USA in downhill.
In Sunday’s SG, world champion Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) and Olympic bronze medalist Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, NY) tied for 18th Sunday to lead the U.S. Ski Team in the final Audi FIS Alpine World Cup super G before World Cup Finals.
Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal won on home snow to lock the men's super G title prior to the final race with his fourth victory in the discipline this season.
Ligety will represent the U.S. Ski Team at World Cup Finals for super G where only the top 25 athletes can compete.