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Rare tie for Olympic gold in women’s downhill

Women's downhill gold medalists Dominique Gisin of Switzerland, left, and Slovenia's Tina Maze.

Gero Breloer/Associated Press

Women's downhill gold medalists Dominique Gisin of Switzerland (left) and Slovenia's Tina Maze.

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — For the first time in Olympic history, an Alpine skiing race ended in a tie.

Tina Maze of Slovenia and Dominique Gisin of Switzerland both sped down the Rosa Khutor course in 1 minute, 41.57 seconds Wednesday to share the gold medal in women’s downhill.

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A few moments later, the good friends held hands as they stepped up to the top of the podium.

‘‘I’m sure glad I’m going to share this gold with Tina,’’ said Gisin. ‘‘She’s such a great woman and one of the greatest athletes of our sport.’’

Lara Gut of Switzerland earned bronze, 0.10 behind the winners.

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Wednesday’s finish marked the eighth time that gold medals have been awarded to two competitors in the same Winter Games event, the first time in Alpine skiing.

‘‘Maybe just one finger or one hand can change the color of a medal,’’ said Maze, adding that there was no need to slice up their finishing times into thousandths of seconds rather than hundredths.

‘‘It’s even more interesting because it’s not a usual thing. It’s something special.’’

Prerace favorites Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany and Julia Mancuso of the US slipped out of contention.

Hoefl-Riesch, who was looking for a record-equaling fourth Olympic Alpine gold, was 1.17 back in 13th place. Mancuso trailed by 0.99 in eighth place after losing more than a half-second in the lower sections.

If the rare occurrence of a tie had to happen, it might have been predictable that Gisin and Maze would be involved.

For the 28-year-old Gisin, it was only her third downhill victory, but two have been ties. In January 2009, she shared a World Cup victory with Swedish great Anja Paerson in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Austria — the last time a women’s downhill ended in a tie.

Maze was even involved in a three-way tie in October 2002. The World Cup season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, saw Maze, Andrine Flemmen of Norway, and Nicole Hosp of Austria all occupy the podium’s top step. Hosp placed ninth Wednesday.

This Olympic race seemed to be in Maze’s hands when she led Gisin at each time split and speed check. But she then appeared to make a small mistake before the final slope, which was slowed by softening snow.

‘‘I really thought Tina could do it,’’ Mancuso said. ‘‘She almost did the same thing that I did on the bottom, but she was going a little faster so I think she pulled it off.’’

Wearing bib No. 21, Maze started 30 minutes after No. 8 Gisin as temperatures approached 50 degrees.

Maze stretched her arms overhead and threw her goggles in the air after seeing that she shared the lead. It was the best result in a difficult season for the Slovenian, who has struggled to match her exceptional 2013 campaign.

Though Maze won two silvers at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Gisin earned her first major medal. When Maze completed her run, Gisin came out of the leader’s box and into the finish area to give her a hug.

Four years ago, Gisin’s Olympic downhill ended when she crashed off the final jump and endured a long slide to the finish line, where she hit a bank of snow and was tossed into the air.

Then Gisin sustained a concussion. This time, the Swiss racer was crying while speaking with her grandparents on her mobile phone.

‘‘It was very emotional,’’ Gisin said. ‘‘They did so much for me; my whole family did. This is just very nice to share it with them.’’

The last tie in Olympic skiing happened in men’s super-G at the 1998 Nagano Olympics. Didier Cuche of Switzerland and Hans Knauss of Austria both got silver behind winner Hermann Maier of Austria.

Twice, two women have tied for second place in Olympic giant slalom races.

At the 1992 Albertville Olympics, Diann Roffe of the United States and Anita Wachter of Austria both took silver behind Pernilla Wiberg of Sweden. At the 1964 Innsbruck Olympics, Christine Goitschel of France and Jean Saubert of the US were second to gold medalist Marielle Goitschel of France.

In men’s downhill at the 1948 St. Moritz Olympics, Swiss pair Karl Molitor and Ralph Olinger tied for bronze when timing was measured in tenths of seconds.

Mancuso had been fastest in the downhill portion of Monday’s super-combined, in which she took bronze and Hoefl-Riesch won. Maze was fourth.

That day, Gut had been second-fastest in downhill before letting a medal slip by skiing out in slalom.

On Wednesday, Gut was in tears again, seemingly unable to understand how her speed — 64.9 m.p.h. — did not translate into a faster time.

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