Elisabeth Goergl of Austria won the women’s downhill title for her second gold medal at the world championships.
Goergl, who also won Tuesday’s super-G, beat defending champion Lindsey Vonn of the US, who took silver, and Germany’s Maria Riesch, who earned her second bronze of the worlds.
“I can’t believe it, I was so anxious before the race,” said Goergl, who finished the 2.9km Kandahar course in 1 minute, 47.24 seconds to lead Vonn by 0.44 seconds, while Riesch was 0.60 seconds back.
“The super-G gold was not a relief for me, I still felt pressure, but I think you need to have that feeling to do really well,” the Austrain said.
Austria has now won all three women’s events at the worlds after Anna Fenninger took the super-combined title on Friday.
It was the first women’s top-level downhill race in two years not won by either Vonn or Riesch.
Vonn has been struggling with the aftereffects of hitting her head in a training crash in Austria 11 days ago. The Olympic downhill champion lost her super-G title on Tuesday when she finished seventh and skipped the slalom part of the super-combined event on Friday.
“I am very, very happy to win silver, it was the best result possible for me,” Vonn told German television. “Today, I could race a bit more like I normally do, but it was difficult to go to the limit.”
Vonn started 20th after most of the pre-race favorites, such as Dominique Gisin, Lara Gut, Goergl and Riesch, had completed their runs.
The late start was a disadvantage because the snow had been softened by temperatures not dropping below zero for several nights.
Vonn was behind from the start. She seemed to hold a bit back from her usual attacking style, but kept her racing line perfectly. She hit a bump shortly before finishing, but adjusted well.
“I was not perfect, that’s why I didn’t win,” Vonn said. “On the other hand, Lizzi [Goergl] was just sensational today and she would have been hard to beat anyway.”
Riesch, who has had a fever since Tuesday, lost 0.20 seconds in the first part of the course to Goergl, but kept up with the Austrian’s pace, before losing speed in the final section.
“This medal makes me the happiest person today,” Riesch said. “I won’t complain about not being fit — if you are starting in a world championship race, there are no excuses.”
The German didn’t expect to win bronze “under these circumstances. I know many people were expecting me to win a medal and it was my main goal. Unfortunately, I lost too much speed in the final part.”
Switzerland’s Gut, who hurt her knee in a slalom crash on Friday, finished fourth to miss out on a podium place by 0.34 seconds. Gut, who won downhill silver in 2009, also took fourth in the super-G.
Vonn’s US teammate Julia Mancuso, who won silver in the super-G, was already more than a second behind going into the middle part. She had a strong finish and trailed by 1.06 seconds in sixth place.
Sweden’s Anja Paerson finished 10th after a disappointing showing.
Paerson, who said before the race she would win the title “if my skis are fast and I don’t make a mistake,” was the fastest starter at 119kph going into the middle part of the course, but the seven-time world champion struggled to find the right line and finished 1.78 seconds off the lead.