KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (USA TODAY) - When Tina Maze sped down the mountain in Wednesday's downhill, she made history in multiple ways, winning Slovenia's first gold medal at a Winter Games and its fourth medal here, most in the country's history.
Perhaps it is time to petition parliament for a name change.
Maze was officially speechless. "Usually I stay without the words when I think about this win," she said.
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The moment is one she had been dreaming of since she was a girl growing up in a small Slovenian mining village near the Austrian border. Her grandfather worked in the mines. Her father sold mining equipment. They mined for iron. She mines for gold.
She won two silver medals at the Vancouver Games and is a star on the World Cup circuit, where she is reigning overall champion, but she hungered for that historic gold.
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"The first ski race I ever won in my life was a downhill," she said, "so before I went to the track today I said to myself, 'This has to be it. I can do it,' and I just went for it."
She tied Switzerland's Dominique Gisin for gold - more history, as that had never before happened in Olympic alpine skiing - and at the flower ceremony they jumped to the top of the podium simultaneously, another tie.
"This doesn't feel real," Maze said. "I will have to see my team to get myself together and realize how much this means to us."
Brane Dmitrovic knows how much it means to the country. He is press attaché of the Olympic Committee of Slovenia.
"This gold means everything to us," Dmitrovic told USA TODAY Sports. "For the medal ceremony, life in Slovenia will stop for half an hour."
Maze (pronounced MAH-zuh) is a rock star in her home country, and not only metaphorically. Her pop song My Way is My Decision was an immediate hit in Slovenia when it was released in 2012.
"She is not typical athlete," Dmitrovic said. "She likes to sing a song. It is a hit in my country. She likes to write her own blog. She is, how to say, a thinkable person."
She has 33,000 followers on Twitter --- and follows two. Is she so famous in Slovenia that everyone knows her when she walks down the street?
"Of course," Dmitrovic said. "Slovenia is so small country everyone knows everyone. If I don't know you, I know your brother. Slovenia is like three avenues in New York."
The country in southern Central Europe split from Yugoslavia in the early 1990s and has a population of little more than 2 million. On a per capita basis, according to Dmitrovic, Slovenia will rank in the top 10 for medals at these Games. Peter Prevc won silver in men's ski jumping (normal hill individual), Teja Gregorin bronze in women's biathlon (10k pursuit) and Vesna Fabjan bronze in women's cross country skiing (sprint free). The Slovenian men's hockey team qualified for the Winter Games for the first time. And Maze could have more medals ahead: She will race in the Super G, giant slalom and slalom.
"We Slovenians are obviously crazy guys," Dmitrovic said. "Only 2 million people are living in my country. It is simply unbelievable. Like much of Europe, we are in an economic crisis, there is only so much money for sport. But obviously there is something special in our hearts. I don't know why. I am not so clever to answer."
Maze made a brief introductory comment at the news conference for podium winners.
"Hello to everybody," she said. "I think it was perfect day for me today. I came to the Olympics to win a gold, and today I achieved my goal. I can't imagine anything better."
Raise a glass of slivovitz. That's the plum brandy much loved in Slovenia, though perhaps not so much loved today as history's golden girl.