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I'm in best shape of career, says Slovenian Maze

By Patrick Lang

CORTINA D'AMPEZZO, Italy (Reuters) - Tina Maze has been unable to recapture the form she showed in her record-breaking Alpine skiing season a year ago but still believes she is in the form of her life approaching the Sochi Olympics.

"I know I'm in the best shape of my career even if I'm not showing it," said the Super-G world champion who has yet to win a World Cup race this season.

"I feel really strong. I feel perfect," she told reporters in Cortina d'Ampezzo where she clocked the second fastest time in training before Saturday's downhill race was called off.

The 2013 World Cup winner with a record total of 2,414 points, Maze has had to be content with three podium places this season.

"It's always difficult after that kind of season. I had trouble to keep pushing and going. When you're not doing that, your skiing is not as effective as it should be," she said.

"I need to have peace to show my best. I know that when you do a season like that it's normal that people want to be around you but you can't change your personality.

"It cost me some energy. We're working on it and it's coming. We're going in the right direction. It's not too late," added Maze.

To tackle her preparations for next month's Olympics, Maze and her partner and team manager Andrea Massi decided to part company with Italian coach Walter Ronconi and replace him with Swiss Mauro Pini who previously looked after Spain's Maria Jose Rienda Contreras and Lara Gut.

POSITIVE FEELING

"We were really lucky Mauro was in a position that he could fit in our program for the next races. The first days were really positive," said Maze.

"I really like that Mauro is with me nearly all the time and helping me all the time. It's important to have feedback from him. The first feeling is positive and from then on all doors are open."

Pini may have to focus on the mental side of things for Maze.

"My head is playing games with me sometimes but we'll figure that out," she said. "When things are going well you don't think too much and when you're losing you start thinking too much.

"The trigger is to stop thinking and just do it."

Along with Massi's support and Pini's advice, the Slovenian can also count on an essential fixture in her life - music.

"Music is part of me," said Maze whose hit record 'My Way Is My Decision' topped the Slovenian charts last year.

The skier said she had been listening to Freddie Mercury, the late Queen frontman, during practice recently.

"Skiing is also an art and if you can do it with music in the background it's perfect," she said.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez) nL3N0KS07O

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