GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany Tina Maze waited a long time for her gold medal. Slovenia, too.
Maze became the first athlete from her country to win an Alpine skiing gold medal at a world championships or Olympics, following three silvers for the 27-year-old.
I had enough silver by now, Maze said after her giant slalom victory at worlds Thursday.
The only other Slovenian to win Alpine gold was Mateja Svet in slalom at the 1989 worlds in Vail although Slovenia still was part of the former Yugoslavia then.
Weve always had good athletes, but nobody could grab gold, Maze said. Im sure a lot of people will be very happy. It shows that even if were a small country we can be on top.
Maze won silver in the super-combined last week and also finished second in the super-G and giant slalom at last years Vancouver Olympics. In Whistler, she was only 0.04 seconds behind German winner Viktoria Rebensburg.
Ive been so close before Ive lost by a few hundredths and (Thursday) it worked out for me, said Maze, who celebrated by performing cartwheels in the finish area.
Gold is a nice color.
With the start of the race delayed for two hours by fog and low visibility, Mazes win was constructed around her blazing opening run, helped by being the first skier on a deteriorating course. Then she held on to her lead through the second leg, winning by 0.09 seconds ahead of Federica Brignone of Italy and 0.48 in front of Tessa Worley of France.
Tina is always a great big-event competitor, and she stepped it up again (Thursday), said Julia Mancuso, the top American finisher in 16th.
Mancuso, who won gold in GS at the 2006 Torino Olympics, struggled with the soft conditions.
Ive been training a lot on hard snow and just wasnt able to connect, she said.
I was disappointed with my time first run because I felt like I skied better. But second run I definitely went too straight because I was too fired up, because at world champs its all or nothing, so sometimes you get nothing, said Mancuso, who was 12th in the opening run.
The other American finishers were Sarah Schleper in 21st and Megan McJames in 34th. With Lindsey Vonn having pulled out of worlds to rest her injured head, the U.S. team used only three of its four starting positions.