Alpine Skiing: Maze underlines Olympic aims with downhill win

Slovenia's Tina Maze underlined her Olympic medal ambitions with a first World Cup win of the season in the women's downhill at sun-drenched Cortina on Saturday.

The defending World Cup champion made the most of the perfect race conditions in the Italian Dolomites to complete the Olympia delle Tofane course in a time of 1min 37.79sec to open her season account two weeks before the Sochi Games.

Swiss Marianne Kaufmann-Abderhalden, a downhill winner at Val d'Isere last month, was second at 0.27secs with Lichtenstein's Tina Weirather third at 0.38.

Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch, who boosted her World Cup overall lead with victory in a shortened Cortina downhill on Friday, could only finish fourth at 0.54 after a costly mistake moments after tackling the 2.66 km long course.

Hoefl-Riesch's closest challenger in the overall race, Austrian Anna Fenninger, finished tied for fifth with Stacey Cook, with her fellow American Julia Mancuso seventh at 0.63.

Maze's 23rd win of her career follows two third places in a slalom (Levi) and giant slalom (St. Moritz) and a runner-up place at the Val d'Isere downhill last month.