Joint winner of the Bormio classic earlier this season, the 23-year-old Paris outshone the favorites in one minute 57.56 seconds to emulate compatriot Kristian Ghedina, crowned in 1998.
“To win Kitzbuehel is a career high, something very special for a downhiller, I didn’t feel so good up there but I nailed the final part really well. It’s the kind of course I like the most, you have to fight from top to bottom, like at Bormio.”
Paris fended off questions about his chances at the world championships in Schladming which start on February 5.
“I don’t want to think about Schladming. Kitzbuehel is Kitzbuehel. Nothing else matters for now,” he said.
The victory underlined the strength of the Italian speed team, who have bagged four of the six downhills held this season, with Christof Innerhofer winning in Beaver Creek and in Wengen a week ago.
Innerhofer was the focus of attention for the 50,000 spectators lining the Streif on Saturday, as he started in 46th position after being sanctioned for ignoring an order to slow down in practice.
Threatened with losing his racing license after criticizing the International Ski Federation (FIS) on Austrian television, Innerhofer was allowed to race with a fine and a high start number after he apologized.
As visibility worsened, the super-G world champion finished 21st, 1.92 off the pace.
Erik Guay was second, 0.13 seconds adrift, the best result for a Canadian on the Streif piste in 30 years.
“A podium finish in Kitzbuehel is amazing, something I have been aiming for a long time,” Guay said. “It is for sure a special place for the Canadians and it means a lot to do so well in the last speed race before the worlds.”
Hannes Reichelt, who shared victory with Paris in Bormio, salvaged Austrian pride by finishing third, 0.36 behind the winner.
Aksel Lund Svindal, the fastest in practice and winner of Friday’s super-G, looked a clear favorite at the start but could manage only 10th place, 1.16 back.
Perhaps unsettled by the crash of Frenchman Johan Clarey, who started ahead of him, the Norwegian surrendered the downhill World Cup lead to Paris by six points while losing vital ground in the race for the overall title to Austria’s Marcel Hirscher.
Hirscher will be the favorite at home in Sunday’s slalom here.
(Editing by Clare Fallon)
American Lindsey Vonn proved again that she is back to her best after an illness by putting down two good runs in Maribor, Slovenia, to win in two minutes, 22.2 seconds. (PierMarco Tacca/Associated Press)
Lindsey Vonn edges rival Tina Maze in giant slalom
(PhatzRadio / CBC Sports) — Lindsey Vonn beat biggest rival Tina Maze on the Slovenian’s home snow and in her best discipline Saturday, earning a surprising victory in a giant slalom in Maribor.
Vonn proved again that she is back to her best after an illness by putting down the fastest time in the second run in what is traditionally her weakest event, winning in two minutes, 22.2 seconds.
Vonn was third after the first run but overcame several errors in the second to create a margin that Maze couldn’t bridge.
“In the second run I decided, OK, it’s all or nothing, I had to go for it,” Vonn said. “It’s been a rough year for me in GS, so it’s just perfect.”
Maze was looking to win her home race for the third time and led after a near-perfect first run, but a poor start to the second cost her valuable time and she finished 0.08 seconds behind Vonn.
However, second place was enough to secure Maze a third giant slalom discipline title as her closest rival Kathrin Zettel only managed sixth. Maze is 238 points ahead of Zettel with just two GS races remaining this season.
Vonn took nearly a month off over the holidays to recover her full strength after an intestinal illness landed her in a hospital in Colorado in November. While her break allowed Maze to build an even bigger lead in the overall standings, Vonn said it’s clear she made the right decision.
This was Vonn’s first GS victory — and podium finish — since March last year, and her second win in a week after taking the downhill at Cortina D’Ampezzo last Saturday.
“A couple of weeks ago, everyone was thinking I was crazy taking this time off,” Vonn said. “But I felt my body wasn’t ready. Now I am ready.”
While the overall World Cup title may be Maze’s to lose, Vonn will again be a favourite to dominate next month’s world championships in Schladming, Austria, if she can maintain her current form.
This was also Vonn’s 59th World Cup win overall and leaves her just three away from equaling Annemarie Moser Proell’s record on the women’s side.
Austria’s Anna Fenninger was third, 0.57 seconds behind Vonn
Maze still extended her lead in the overall standing to 748 points over her closest challenger, Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch, who finished fourth. Vonn is another 66 points back in third.
The 29-year-old Maze has won four of the seven giant slaloms this season, making the podium in the other three.
“I had a mistake in the flat part,” Maze said. “In my final run, I just had too many mistakes but I am very satisfied with second.
“I have been working so hard this year for this GS crystal globe. Now I’ve won it, I feel freed and can look forward.”
Maze was 0.48 seconds ahead of Vonn after dominating the first run in front of a passionate home crowd.
However, she ran wide at the start of the second, leaving her 0.13 seconds behind her rival at the first checkpoint. Despite the cheers of the fans urging her on, Maze couldn’t make up the time and finished with tears in her eyes.