The Slovenia Times

Tina Maze Taking a Year off Skiing


"I will take a year off before I make any decisions," Maze said in a statement circulated by the Slovenian Ski Association.

She said her "body and mind need a longer rest" after 16 competitive seasons.

Maze plans to finish her university degree and spend some time working on marketing with her sponsors.

"I would like to thank you for supporting me through all these years. I hope you understand and respect my decision," she said.

The message follows rampant speculation about an impending career end for Maze, who turned 32 in early May.

Maze is the second top Slovenian athlete in recent years to suspend their career.

Hammer thrower Primož Kozmus surprised sports fans in late 2009, a year after taking the Olympic gold and just weeks after winning at the World Championships by announcing his retirement, only to resurrect his career in early 2011.

Asked about the outlook for Maze's return, Kozmus told the STA that the most important thing for an athlete was "the desire to perform and achieve good results".

He said that his sabbatical was more problematic because he initially did not intend to return, while Maze will be able to keep a certain level of fitness if she has her eyes set on returning.

"I'm sure that if Tina Maze retains her conditioning, she will have less trouble with returning to competition," said Slovenia's most successful field athlete of all time, adding that her decision "was probably influenced by overload of competition and all the pomp".

Meanwhile, head of the Slovenian Ski Association Jurij Žurej said that there will always be a place for Maze in Slovenia's top ski body.

"On behalf of the SZS I would like to congratulate Tina Maze and thank her for everything she has done for Slovenian skiing and Slovenia as a whole," he said.

The SZS is currently in talks with Maze's coach and partner Andrea Massi on cooperation with the Slovenian men's team, with Žurej confirming that they were hoping to get the Italian-born ski coach, who is Maze's life partner, on board.

While Massi is yet to decide on his future role, he suggested he would prefer a lower-key engagement than team leader, at least in the first year.

As for Maze, he said it was up to her to decide, though he believed she could still improve her performance, "as crazy as it sounds".

"It is Tina's decision whether to continue or end her career," said Massi, but noted he might decide not to be her coach any more if she decides to return unless he finds "new motivation".

Maze, a double gold medallist from the 2014 Sochi Olympics, finished the last World Cup season with mixed feelings.

She was in the running for the overall title but lost to Anna Fenninger of Austria in the final race of the season.

Maze was also the star of the World Championships in Beaver Creek, US, in February, winning gold medals in downhill and super combined and silver in super-G.

Her most successful World Cup season was in 2012/2013, when she was the overall winner and also took top honours in the giant slalom, super-G and super combined.

Social network Twitter was abuzz with the news and even her rivals chimed in.

"I wish you all the best for your future plans - hope to see you again! and maybe in a race," Fenninger tweeted.


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