Kaufmann-Abderhalden wins as Vonn crashes out
Switzerland's Marianne Kauffmann-Abderhalden celebrates after winning the women's downhill race at the Alpine Skiing World Cup in Val d'Isere, France on December 21, 2013
The unheralded 27-year-old, in a time of 1min 47.28sec, finished 0.29sec ahead of Slovenia's Tina Maze, with Austria's Cornelia Huetter in third position a further 0.23sec adrift.
But the event down the 2.9km-long course in brilliant sunshine was marred by several crashes, with Olympic downhill champion Lindsey Vonn, under the watchful eye of her boyfriend Tiger Woods, skiing out.
"Unfortunately I have no ACL and it just gave out on me," Vonn said. "It was a small compression and it was fully loaded on the right ski and my knee just completely gave out. I tried to pressure the ski again and it gave out again."
The American said she would now compete in just one or two races before the Sochi Olympics in February in a bid to rest her knee.
"I just need to be careful about how many races I do," she said.
"I'm at risk of doing more damage to my knee and my meniscus and things like that so I'm going to play it safe and race minimal races, probably maybe one or two, before the Olympics just so I can get the confidence and the timing and the feeling of racing again."
France's Marie Marchand-Arvier, the world super-G silver medallist, also came a cropper, landing heavily on her right shoulder and being evacuated off the Oreiller Killy (OK) piste.
Kaufmann-Abderhalden followed up on her good form in Lake Louise, where she finished second and fourth in the two downhills there, and outshone last year's victor (and teammate) Lara Gut.
Gut could only finish 25th at more than 2sec, Liechtenstein's Tina Weirather taking over atop the overall World Cup standings after her fourth place finish.
Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch followed up on her back-to-back downhill victories in Lake Louise with a ninth place that saw her remain atop the downhill standings from Kaufmann-Abderhalden and Weirather.
Kaufmann-Abderhalden came close to giving up skiing a couple of seasons ago, but now hopes to break into a very strong Swiss squad for the Olympic Games.
"It's a big motivation for me," she said. "We have a very good team and I hope I can start in Sochi.
"I had a good season in the summer with lots of training. We work hard and don't make mistakes and if we make a mistake we do it again.
"I really don't know why it started going well in Lake Louise. Here I expected more because it's like a second home for the Swiss, but I certainly did not expect to win."
Kaufmann-Abderhalden hailed the presence of Woods, saying it was nothing but beneficial for alpine skiing.
"It's good for our sport," she said. "It's perfect when you have prominent personalities in the finish area."
Huetter was left surprised by her podium placing behind Maze.
"It was really unexpected for me, it was an awesome day for me," said the Austrian, who was first out of the gate.
"The race was not so easy because it was a little bit bumpy."