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Maze clinches title in record-setting season

Tina Maze of Slovenia clinched her first overall World Cup title Sunday, winning the super-combined at Meribel, France, for her eighth victory this season with nine races still to go.

Maze led the downhill section and coasted home in the slalom after Maria Hoefl-Riesch crashed out of contention. She also tied a season record with her 18th top-three finish, matching the podium mark set by Pernilla Wiberg of Sweden and Hanni Wenzel of Liechtenstein.

“I’m an emotional person; I didn’t want to cry (on the podium),” Maze said, adding she felt sick before the slalom. “I went to the toilet six times before I started.”

Maze already has 1,844 points and is all but certain to smash the season record – men or women – of 2,000 held by Austrian great Hermann Maier.

“It’s really special because it’s so difficult to win. For me it’s special to continue this level of skiing,” Maze said. “To be on the top is amazing. It’s a great season for me. Even if there have been ups and downs I have always come back.”

Barring injury, Maze is likely to break the men’s and women’s points record and seal her place in skiing history with the women’s season record for podiums.

She is also seeking to become the third woman to win all five discipline races in one season and needs only a downhill win to do so. She had a chance Saturday, but finished fourth, and now has two downhills remaining, starting next week in the German resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Hoefl-Riesch is second in the overall standings but is 958 points behind and has no chance of closing the gap. Each victory is worth 100 points.

Lindsey Vonn, the four-time overall winner and defending champion, fell out of contention after she took a monthlong break because of an intestinal illness and then was done for the season after a knee injury at the world championships. Vonn is third overall with 740 points.

“I’m really tired now, especially after a long day like today,” the 29-year-old Maze said. “Today was so tough, I didn’t know where I was. I almost went off the course twice. But I just managed to catch the gates. It’s crazy.”

Nicole Hosp of Austria, the world championship bronze medalist in super-combi, finished second, while countrywoman Michaela Kirchgasser took third with a superb slalom run.

Maze is also in contention to win all five discipline titles.

Men’s world cup

Alexis Pinturault of France bounced back with an aggressive second run to win a World Cup giant slalom in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

World Cup leader Marcel Hirscher of Austria and world champion Ted Ligety of the United finished second and third, respectively.

Nordic worlds

Olympic champion Jason Lamy Chappuis led France to victory in the Nordic combined team event at the world championships in Val Di Fiemme, Italy, and the United States took bronze for its first medal at worlds in the event.

Taylor Fletcher, Bryan Fletcher, Todd Lodwick and Demong earned the bronze for the United States. The American team won silver in the team event at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.