Updated: Tuesday, 18 February 2014 17:58 | By Agence France-Presse

Maze in pole position, violinist Mae survives slalom

Slovenian alpine skier Tina Maze established an iron grip on the Olympic women's giant slalom on Tuesday as Thai violin virtuoso Vanessa Mae -- sprinkling stardust on the soggy slopes -- limped in last.

Maze in pole position, violinist Mae survives slalom

Slovenian skier Tina Maze waves during the alpine skiing downhill medal ceremony during the Sochi Games on February 12, 2014 - by Loic Venance

Maze, hunting her second gold at the Sochi Games after winning the blue riband downhill, was first out of the start gate and made the most of a largely unrutted piste to lead by more than half a second.

Only four racers got within a second of Maze's time of 1min 17.88sec down the first run -- Sweden's Jessica Lindell-Vikarby, Italian Nadia Fanchini, Austria's recently crowned super-G gold medallist Anna Fenninger and American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin.

Maze tied with Dominique Gisin for gold in last week's downhill, and the 30-year-old Slovenian showed all her giant slalom prowess in rainy, warm conditions on the Rosa Khutor course.

At the other end of the field, Vanessa Mae, the Singapore-born British former child prodigy, who competes under her birth father's surname Vanakorn after taking Thai citizenship, was 74th and slowest, nearly 27sec behind Maze.

But the 35-year-old who has worldwide record sales in excess of 10 million, remained upbeat.

"I expected to be last but at the end of the day the Olympics is a great opportunity," she said. "I think I'm going to make a second run so it was really cool."

- 'I nearly crashed three times' -

"I nearly crashed three times, but I made it down and that was the main thing," she added. "Just the experience of being here is amazing. I was worried I was going to get lost (on the course), but I just about managed it."

The second run in the giant slalom takes place at 1:00 pm (0900 GMT).

In other action on the slopes above Sochi, Frenchman Pierre Vaultier emerged from the fog, rain and carnage to win a thrilling men's snowboard cross race.

The 26-year-old came into the competition, which was delayed a day due to heavy fog, as the sixth-ranked boarder in the world but as many of the other favourites fell by the wayside, Vaultier held off surprise package Russian Nikolay Olyunin to take gold.

A total of seven gold medals are up for grabs on Tuesday after two events were held over from Monday because of fog.

Norwegian star Ole Einar Bjoerndalen will try yet again for a record 13th Winter Olympics medal in the biathlon mass start, which was originally set for Sunday, while France's Martin Fourcade seeks a third gold of the Games.

The US freestyle team will be hoping to follow their clean sweep of medals in the men's slopestyle with another sweep in the men's halfpipe, a new event on the programme at Sochi. 

David Wise, Aaron Blunck and Torin Yater-Wallace are among the favourites while in speedskating, the dominant Dutch will be looking for their fourth medal sweep in the men's 10,000 metres. 

Sven Kramer, Jorrit Bergsma and Bob de Jong are expected to dominate.

Gold will also be decided in the Nordic combined individual large hill/10km and women's 3000m relay short track.

Women's bobsleigh stages its first two runs with former US Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones making her long-awaited debut.

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