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Maze holds nerve for a second win

SANTA CATERINA, Italy -- Tina Maze of Slovenia captured her second women's World Cup giant slalom of the season when she held her nerve to win with more than a second to spare at Santa Caterina, Italy.

The 21-year-old finished the challenging and icy course in a combined time over two legs of two minutes 36.78 seconds.

Genevieve Simard was second in 2:37.94 and her Canadian team mate Allison Forsyth third in 2:38.00.

Maze, winner of a giant slalom in St Moritz last month, had enjoyed only the slenderest of leads after the first leg here, but Austria's Nicole Hesp, two hundredths of a second behind in the first run, fell midway through an aggressive second descent.

Maze, particularly adept through the twisting technical sections of the course, ran a tight line on the second run, carving her skis through the compacted snow to leave even world Cup overall leader Tanja Poutiainen well behind.

"It was the first time I led after the first run and so I was a little bit nervous," Maze said. "I just tried to ski like in training. I knew that some of the girls were making mistakes. There were some points where you had to ski really carefully."

Retained lead

Poutiainen of Finland finished sixth and retained her lead atop the overall World Cup standings with 666 points.

Defending overall champion Anja Paerson of Sweden, who fell and injured herself in training on Friday, tied Poutiainen for sixth and remained third overall with 579 points.

"I hurt my hip bone and there is bleeding around it. I didn't know if I could race today," Paerson said.

Croatia's Janica Kostelic, second overall with 613 points, came in 22nd after posting relatively slow times in each of her runs.

Kostelic may have been tired from securing top-10 finishes in two downhills on Thursday and Friday.

The win was Maze's third overall. She won a giant slalom in St. Moritz last month and claimed her first World Cup victory in a giant slalom at Soelden in 2002, which she shared in a three-way tie with Norway's Andrine Flemmen and Hosp.

Maze also came third in a super-G at Altenmarkt on Dec. 11.

The race was the first giant slalom held on the course that will host the world championships from Jan. 28 to Feb. 13. Men's races for the worlds will be held in nearby Bormio.

"It will be nice to come back here and have a good feeling," Maze said.

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