Mikaela Shiffrin

US skier Mikaela Shiffrin makes her first run during the women's giant slalom at the Sochi Olympics on Tuesday at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center. (Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty Images / February 18, 2014)

SOCHI, Russia --Tina Maze earned her second gold medal of the Sochi Olympics on Tuesday, winning from the front in a rainy and snowy giant slalom.

Wearing bib No. 1, Maze skied through the gates cleanly to defend her big first-run lead and finish 0.07 seconds ahead of Anna Fenninger of Austria.

Defending champion Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany was third, trailing 0.27 behind Maze's two-run time of 2 minutes 36.87 seconds.

American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin placed fifth in her Olympic debut.

Maze celebrated by belly-flopping onto the snow and pretending to swim the breaststroke.

She added giant slalom gold in the rain to the tie for victory in a sunbathed downhill last week. The 30-year-old Maze also won giant slalom silver at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

One absentee in the original 90-racer lineup was Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany, who skipped her weakest event because of a cold and breathing problems.

Hoefl-Riesch, the super-combined champion and super-G silver medalist, went to the course to warm up Tuesday but chose not to race. She is expected to defend her slalom title on Friday and challenge for a record-equaling fourth career Olympic gold in women's Alpine skiing.

Julia Mancuso, giant slalom champion at the 2006 Turin Olympics, skied out midway down the last slope in her final event.

“That's a wrap for me here in Sochi. It's been inspiring! Thanks for all the support and Love! (hash)GoUSA!!! Now I get to celebrate my Bronze!!!,” Mancuso, who got her medal in super-combined, wrote on her Twitter account.

Maze has been the most consistent women's skier at the Sochi Games. Mancuso edged her off the super-combined podium by just 0.10 seconds and she was fifth in super-G.

Her victory Tuesday recaptured her standout form in GS last season when she had top-three finishes in all 10 races, including a silver medal at the world championships.

Driving snow and sleet delayed the second run for nearly 15 minutes from its scheduled 1 p.m. start, though it slowed to a drizzle when the medal contenders raced.

Course workers scattered salt to firm the snow surface, which was already softened by days of sunshine.

The first run was completed in the morning despite persistent rain on lower sections and the first snowfall at the Sochi Olympics higher up.

Racers struggled to carve clean turns as their skis pushed the soft snow aside.

“It's like skiing on sugar,” sixth-place finisher Maria Pietilae-Holmner of Sweden said after the first run. “It's hard to ski the way you want to ski.”

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