Olympic champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany bounced back from a disappointing World Cup season to win the super-combined at the alpine ski world championships in Schladming, Austria, on Friday.
Hoefl-Riesch was fourth after the downhill portion before posting the second-fastest time in the slalom to finish in two minutes 39.92 seconds. The German beat Tina Maze of Slovenia by 0.46.
Former overall champion Nicole Hosp was fastest in the slalom and came one second behind in third to earn Austria a first medal at its home worlds.
"I can't believe it," Hoefl-Riesch said. "The last couple of weeks have not been easy.
"I had only two podiums this entire season so I wasn't coming here as a favourite. My goal was to win any medal, the colour didn't matter to me — incredible, it is gold."
Hoefl-Riesch appeared to enjoy a clean slalom run, but the German said it wasn't.
"I am surprised as my slalom didn't feel great," Hoefl-Riesch said after her sixth career medal from major championships.
"I was a bit too conservative. I didn't finish my last two slaloms on the World Cup, so that made me cautious."
'Showed too much respect'
Maze had shared the lead after the first run with Austria's Anna Fenninger, who straddled a gate in the slalom. Lara Gut of Switzerland, who had the same downhill time as Hoefl-Riesch, also failed to finish.
Maze, who holds an almost insurmountable 888-point lead over Hoefl-Riesch in the overall World Cup standings, lost speed after an early mistake in her slalom, which was set by her coach Livio Magoni.
The Slovenian still earned her second medal of the worlds after taking gold in Tuesday's super-G.
"I am not satisfied with my slalom run," Maze said. "I held back and showed too much respect.
"My downhill was pretty good though. Second place and a silver medal is a super result."
Maze won the only World Cup super-combined this season in December and started as a clear favourite for the title.
"I felt a lot of pressure at the start," Maze said. "I tried to stay calm but that wasn't easy."
Lindsey Vonn won the World Cup super-combined title for the past three seasons but the American is out for the season after injuring her right knee in a crash at Tuesday's super-G.urface, making the turning sections of the course even tougher to master.
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