Maria was an outstanding young skier and won seven medals in all disciplines at four Junior World Championships, including three gold medals in combined and super-g.
She made her World Cup debut in February 2001, but injuries caused her to miss the 2005 World Championship and the 2006 Winter Olympics.
However her career really took off during the 2009 season when she won four slalom events on the World Cup tour and finished second in the Overall competiton. She also won the gold medal in the slalom at the World Championships in Val d’Isere.
It got even better the following year when she was one of the stars of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, winning two gold medals in the super combined and slalom. She also finished second again in the Overall World Cup.
In a thrilling competition in 2011, after two years as runner-up, she won the Overall World Cup title, beating three-time defending champion Lindsey Vonn, one of her best friends on the tour, by three points.
After a quiet 2012, she was back in 2013 with her second World Championship gold medal, winning the combined event in Schladming. She also collected bronze medals in the downhill and the team competition.
She retired after the 2014 season following a bad downhill crash and became a Laureus World Sports Academy Member in 2016.