LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland -- Lindsey Vonn took the lead from Maria Riesch in their duel for the overall World Cup title on Wednesday, finishing fourth behind winner Julia Mancuso in the final downhill of the season.
Vonn earned 50 race points for her lowest downhill finish this season, while Riesch failed to score after placing 17th. Riesch's cautious run left her a surprising 3.19 seconds behind Mancuso.[+] EnlargeAP Photo/Alessandro TrovatiLindsey Vonn's fourth-place finish in Wednesday's downhill pushed her into the overall World Cup lead.
Vonn took a 27-point lead over her friend and rival with three races left this week. Vonn is looking for her fourth straight overall title after already earning the downhill discipline title.
"I'm really happy with fourth place," said Vonn, who lost time early in her run then fought back on the steep bottom section. "I think it was a solid performance and another exciting day in the hunt for the overall."
The 26-year-old Riesch of Germany slumped to the snow in the finish area, and was later shown on television sitting with her head in her hands in the equipment inspection hut.
"It's tough when you have led the whole season and suddenly you get knocked off the top," Riesch said.
Skiing several minutes later, Vonn also looked uncomfortable at times on the steep, twisting course. But she raised her right fist triumphantly at the finish when she saw she stood in third place.
Mancuso skied next and delivered an assured, aggressive run to clock 1 minute, 27.50 seconds. She earned her first World Cup win since March 2007, finishing 0.81 seconds clear of Lara Gut of Switzerland. World champion Elisabeth Goergl of Austria was third.
"It's really, really nice to finally win," said Mancuso, the Olympic silver medalist in downhill behind Vonn a year ago. "It was a really great opportunity. I wanted to win and I knew I had to risk it all."
After watching early leader Gut's strong run, she decided to attack.
"I got a good feeling you really had to charge, so I took it down the hill," said Mancuso, who has pledged half of her prize money this week to relief efforts in Japan.
Mancuso, who also won silver in super-G at the world championships last month, moved to third in the final downhill standings, behind Vonn and Riesch.
Stacey Cook added to a strong U.S. showing, finishing ninth in 1:29.75.
The women's final super-G will be held Thursday.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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