If I had my way, every entry in the Women’s Ski Racing Report would probably be about Julia Mancuso or Lara Gut. And they had solid seasons on the World Cup, but I don’t want to be known for only focusing on superficially attractive female skiers, so for the first edition of TH&BL we’re going to take a look at the most dominant skier on the entire (men’s and women’s) World Cup right now. She’s a pure athlete who takes no crap, lives in the weight room, and would never trivialize her ski career with pyrite glitter of commercial objectification.
Meet Tina Maze (pronounced Mahz-uh).
Like many of the greatest ski racers, the Slovenian multi-disciplinarian is the walking, talking, ice-trenching repudiation of authoritarian football coaches all across America. Dropping off the Slovenian team to embark on her own training program with the help of her mysterious 40-something Italian lover/trainer, Maze dominated the overall World Cup last winter—in individual event titles, podiums, earnings—all while skiing against one of the most stacked fields in history.
Maze celebrated by recording a Euro-pop song (that’s probably still dominating the charts in Slovenia and parts of the former Soviet Union) about how her life is her way and her decision. The video illustrates her self-actualization symbolically when her mysterious Italian lover hands her a 20kg barbell plate, which she proceeds to casually toss and catch in one hand like it’s a beer coaster, which is also the golden key to crushing the World Cup to smoking cinders. Then she air-guitars a pair of Stocklis while dressed as if she’s in a Guess Jeans commercial from 1993 and crazed squirrels have just attacked her hair.
Which, it must be said, beats the ever-lovin crap out of pastel Facebook engagement photos with Contrite And Not That Horny Anymore Tiger Woods. But not, it should be noted, Mancuso’s European TV ad for some kind of mineral water, which expresses similar sentiments of happy independence and opens with a tight shot of Mancuso’s underwear-clad ass that… well, what else is there to say? Ski racing! Where 165-pound dead-lift experts can be human formula one teams and on the cover of tabloids.
At any rate, in between haunting my dreams, counting stacks of money, and drop-sets of one-legged squats, Maze found the time to lay waste to a women’s World Cup field that’s so deep with talent you could split it into two equally competitive tours. Which is the asterisk that should be attached to any accomplishment by any woman on the World Cup these days: they don’t have to beat one historically great champion to win, they have to beat three or four at every race. With the overlap of technical and speed specialists, women’s GS might have the most competitive field ever seen in ski racing.
And Maze took not just the GS title, but the Overall and Super G crowns as well. They only ran the DH/Slalom combo Super Combined three times and didn’t have a title, but she won two of those and got second in the third. She came in second to Vonn for the DH title, and were it not for a single blistering run by a plucky American named Shiffrin, the Slovenian would have taken the slalom title too.
That’s the best season a World Cup skier has had in the modern era since Hermann Maier. Maze shattered Maier’s records for number of podiums and highest earnings from prize money on the World Cup (the FIS, despite the patronizing “Ladies” title for athletes, has paid equal prize money on the World Cup for more than a decade), and has become a bonafide celebrity in Europe. Of course it should be noted that there are a couple of other skiers who have raced more or less independently on the World Cup with some success: Marc Girardelli, Lindsey Vonn, and Bode Miller. Maybe it’s not a team sport after all.
Maze was also recently decorated with the Slovenian Golden Order of Services for her successes by Slovenian President Borut Orhan.
At any rate, if Maze can repeat last season, maybe bring home a little gold from Sochi, Orhan better watch his back. The next president of Slovenia could have a mysterious Italian lover and very strong quads.