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March 13, 2013

Maze takes aim at greatest World Cup ski season

LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland — Tina Maze is targeting the greatest season in World Cup history, and aims to start finals week on Wednesday by dethroning downhill queen Lindsey Vonn.

On the men’s side in Lenzerheide, Aksel Lund Svindal likely must repeat his stunning run of victories here in 2007 to beat Marcel Hirscher for the overall title.

Hirscher’s outstanding giant slalom form has been eclipsed only by Ted Ligety’s career year, and the three-time world champion from the U.S. goes for a sixth World Cup win on Saturday.

Despite Vonn’s absence because of a knee injury — and missing other star attractions such as Bode Miller, resting for the Olympic season, and retired home favorite Didier Cuche — the season finale likely will be decided tiny margins.

In 46 World Cup seasons, only French great Jean-Claude Killy in 1967 has ever swept their season’s titles. Maze can match that this week in a more competitive era, and sustaining her excellence in more than twice as many races.

“I was dreaming about this as a kid, that I would be so good,” the Slovenian said Tuesday. “I am really living it.”

When Killy dominated the inaugural men’s circuit, he topped the overall, downhill, giant slalom and slalom standings across a 17-race season from January to March.

Maze will complete a 37-race, five-month campaign on Sunday with a record points total, approaching 2,500. She can add downhill, super-G and slalom titles to the overall and GS crystal globes she locked up weeks ago.

“After a long season, I am happy and proud,” said Maze, who competed in five races at the world championships last month and took home a gold medal and two silvers.

The successful U.S. team — and the season’s breakout star Mikaela Shiffrin — pose the biggest danger to a Maze sweep in slalom.

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