Maze wins women’s slalom; Shiffrin 11th

Matti Huuhtanen
Associated Press
Tina Maze feeds a reindeer she was given after winning an alpine ski, women's World Cup slalom, in Levi, Finland, Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Giovanni Auletta)

LEVI, Finland — Tina Maze of Slovenia won the women’s World Cup slalom opener Saturday with an overall time of 1 minute, 55.15 seconds while defending world champion Mikaela Shiffrin came 11th and said she had “lessons to learn.”

Maze, who was fastest in the first run, beat Swede Frida Hansdotter by 0.34 after a second run in light snow as the Arctic sky darkened.

Austria’s Kathrin Zettel had the day’s fastest time of 56.70 to finish third, ahead of Sweden’s Maria Pietilae-Holmner.

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Shiffrin, 14th after the first run, improved slightly in the second to finish 11th overall. The American had times of 59.83 and 57.39 for a 1:57.22 total, more than two seconds behind Maze.

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Maze wasn’t certain of winning.

“I wasn’t sure because I had made so many mistakes, not big mistakes but I didn’t know where I would end up,” Maze said. “But I’m like that sometimes. When I’m feeling good, I can ski well and get ahead.”

The 19-year-old Shiffrin was keen to analyze her performance.

“It’s easy to win when you’re winning. I still need to learn how to come back in the second run if I have a slower first run,” Shiffrin said. “I still need to learn how to race like a champion. I wasn’t able to do that today.”

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Maze was fastest in the first run with 58.12 seconds, 0.39 faster than Frida Hansdotter.

Known as one of the toughest slalom slopes on the circuit, Levi had a hard, gritty base after days of cold temperatures.

“The base is not icy but it’s quite aggressive, making it hard to let your skis go,” Hansdotter said.

Shiffrin, who was unbeatable at Levi last year, skied a good first section in her first run but was slower on the steep part of the slope. She trailed Maze by 1.71 before the second run.

The men’s slalom takes place Sunday at Levi, which is the world’s northernmost World Cup venue, about 125 kilometers (80 miles) north of the Arctic Circle.

Shiffrin leads the World Cup overall standings with 124 points, ahead of Zetel with 110. Maze is third with 109.

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