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Maier, Maze set the early pace on the road to Are

Maier, Maze set the early pace on the road to Are{mosimage}The alpine World Cup began this weekend at Soelden, Austria, with men’s and women’s giant slaloms. In both races, the person with bib No. 1 finished the day as the winner. They were Tina Maze of Slovenia and Hermann Maier of Austria.

Last year, the two winners of the Soelden openers went to finish the season like they started; both Anja Paerson of Sweden and Bode Miller of the United States went on to win the overall World Cup titles.

These were the first races of a season that will last 21 weeks before ending, in mid-March, at World Cup Finals (in Are, Sweden). In total, there are 37 women’s races at 15 venues in 13 countries. The men have 39 races at 18 venues in 11 countries.

The women’s calendar will have eight downhills, eight super G races, nine giant slaloms and nine slaloms. There are also super combineds scheduled for St. Moritz and Hafjell.

The men’s calendar is less balanced, with 10 downhills, six super Gs, eight giant slaloms and 10 slaloms. There are four combined races, including super combineds at Val d’Isere, Wengen and Chamonix.

This year’s alpine World Cup is truly a World Cup taking racers from Canada to Japan to Norway to Croatia, as well as the central European nations that traditionally host the events.

Soelden was also the last time the men’s and women’s circuits will be together in the same place until the Finals in mid-March. At that point, one man and one woman will be handed the most prestigious title in the sport: overall World Cup champion.

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