ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (AFP) - Switzerland's Dominique Gisin and Slovenian Tina Maze finished in a dead heat to share gold in the women's Olympic downhill at Rosa Khutor on Wednesday.
Swiss racer Gisin, wearing bib No.8, first clocked 1min 41.57sec down the 2.7km-long course and in brilliant sunshine it looked to have been enough for outright victory.
But Gisin had not counted on Maze, the 2013 super-G world champion and proven big-stage performer.
Starting 13 runners after Gisin on a course that had not broken up, the Slovenian led all the splits but lost a little time after the final jump to come charging through the finish line in a dead heat.
Maze has had a relatively poor season, which was only partially rescued by a first downhill win in Cortina d'Ampezzo in January, but her third-place finish in the downhill run of the super-combined was a reminder of her speed abilities.
Swiss racer Lara Gut, who has so far this season won three super-G and one downhill World Cup race and finished second in the combined's downhill, claimed bronze, a further 0.10sec adrift.
There was no silver awarded in the race marked by the absence through injury of defending champion and media darling Lindsey Vonn of the United States.
Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch, the winner of Monday's super-combined, could only finish 13th at 1.17sec, and Austrian silver medallist Nicole Hosp ninth at 1.05sec.
It meant Hoefl-Riesch, who stands atop the World Cup overall and downhill standings so far this season, missed out on drawing level with now-retired Croatian Janica Kostelic's record of four Olympic golds.
But the 29-year-old German will have other opportunities as she races in all five disciplines.
Other rivals for the downhill crown included a couple of racers who disappointed on Monday, including Austrian pin-up Anna Fenninger.
She finished eighth in the super-combined and suffered more woe on the Rosa Khutor course when she skied out after losing control in the middle section.
American Julia Mancuso, who had snatched bronze in the combined thanks to a fastest downhill run and won silver in the discipline in Vancouver four years ago, finished eighth at 0.99sec back.