SCHLADMING, Austria Tina Maze comfortably is the racer to beat in todays super-combined at the skiing World Championships.
I know how to deal with the pressure of coming here as a favorite, Maze said.
A second consecutive gold medal is in her sights after becoming the first Slovenian medalist in a speed race in the super-G on Tuesday. She wont get competition from Lindsey Vonn, who crashed Tuesday and is out for the season with a knee injury.
Instead, Julia Mancuso of the United States is looking to challenge Maze for the super-combined title. Mancuso finished third this week in the super-G.
I am happy with a third place, but the next goal is to get that gold, she said.
Maze has been enjoying a standout World Cup season, including victory in the only super-combined so far.
I would be proud of two gold medals, said Maze, who could win a fifth career worlds medal. But (Alberto) Tomba once said, There is no two without three.
In 2011 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, Maze won gold in giant slalom and trailed champion Anna Fenninger of Austria for silver in the super-combined. Two years earlier in Val dIsère, France, she took silver in the GS.
Maze is one of only six female skiers to win World Cup races in all five Alpine disciplines.
Vonn also has achieved that feat, winning the World Cup super-combined title for three consecutive years.
In the World Cup, Mancuso hasnt reached a podium in the discipline for six years, but she looks to peak in major championships, earning silver at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Maria Hoefl-Riesch, the 2010 Olympic champion, has won four super-combineds. The 2011 overall champion from Germany is second in the World Cup overall standings, more than 800 points behind Maze.
Hoefl-Riesch has won just once this season the season-opening slalom in November in Levi, Finland.
The hopes of the home nation will be on Kathrin Zettel, who finally is healthy after a few injury-plagued seasons, and defending champion Anna Fenninger.
Fenningers 2011 victory remains her only top-three finish in a super-combined. Specializing in speed racing, the Austrian said shes trained in slalom for only six days this season.
But World Championships have their own rules. Everything can happen, Fenninger said. That was also the case when I won it two years ago.