Row over sponsors casts Maze's final appearance into uncertainty
A press release issued by the Slovenian Skiing Federation (SZS) on Wednesday suggests that Maze has made her appearance at the Golden Fox giant slalom race in the national team jersey conditional on the payment of EUR 90,000 in sponsorship funds.
This is after the executive board of the federation decided that Maze can only appear on the team by meeting conditions that apply to other team members, including appearing in the team jersey carrying the emblems of team sponsors.
"The use of other sponsors on the competition jersey would be in direct breach of obligations to sponsors and could seriously jeopardise cooperation and consequently the discipline's financial stability," runs the release from the federation, which until recently had grappled with serious financial problems.
"Once the competitor meets the conditions she will be registered for the event by the SZS. Unless she does, the SZS will not register her for the competition," said the federation about Maze's appearance at the Golden Fox meet.
Maze's lawyer Damijan Terpin responded by calling an emergency press conference and announcing that Maze no longer felt she could "wave to people at the Golden Fox after all that has happened," having been slandered by the federation two weeks before the race.
Terpin stressed that Maze had never demanded EUR 90,000 for her appearance or set any conditions. She "would never do this because it's stupid," he said.
He explained that Maze's partner and coach Andrea Massi sent a letter to the SZS two weeks ago, proposing a EUR 15,000 compensation from the federation's sponsors, but only received a response after ten days with a proposal to get nothing for wearing the team jersey.
According to Terpin, Maze now only wants "an apology for the damage to her reputation", but given the whole situation they are considering legal action.
"Maze has been presented as a greedy person who wants only money... The moral damage can't be undone, and the material damage amounts to more than EUR 100,000," her lawyer said.
Differences with the national skiing federation had already prompted Maze in 2008 to part with the national team and pursue her career on her own in what proved to be a life-changing decision that paved her way to stardom.
Maze, 33, announced her retirement in October after she had taken a year off to reach a final decision. She wanted to appear one last time to say goodbye to her fans in Maribor, where she made her World Cup debut in 1999 at the age of 15.
Maze boasts 26 World Cup victories, 81 podium results, four World Champion titles and two Olympic gold medals. She also set a world record in 2012/2013 by winning 2,414 points in a single World Cup season.