By Manuele Lang
CRANS-MONTANA, Switzerland (Reuters) - Austrian Andrea Fischbacher beat Sochi gold medalists Anna Fenninger and Tina Maze to win the World Cup downhill in Crans-Montana on Sunday, in the process winning her first race for four years.
Fischbacher, in the first race since the Sochi Games, clocked one minute 34.00 seconds to win her first race since becoming Super-G Olympic champion at the Vancouver Winter Games in 2010.
Fellow Austrian Fenninger finished 0.15 seconds behind with Maze third, a further 0.32 seconds adrift.
The 28-year-old Fischbacher's lack of form since then culminated in her failure to make the Austrian Olympic Team to defend her title in Sochi. In her absence, Fenninger won super-G gold while Maze won both the downhill and giant slalom.
"I often considered retiring from the circuit in the last few years for nothing was easy for me. But I always believed I could make it back on the podium after all those years. But a victory is more than I was hoping for," Fischbacher said.
"Life is funny at times when you think that I could not qualify for Sochi.
"When I saw I was not going to join the party, I told myself to stay positive and do what I do best, that is train and work hard."
The race was rescheduled and delayed twice as overnight snow and thick fog threatened to cancel it altogether.
"I didn't think. I let my skis do the job. It was a hard course and a demanding race. I nearly went out near the bottom. But it's just a fantastic day," she added.
Since her Olympic glory of 2010, a year that saw her crowned Austrian sportswoman of the year, "Fischi" has been plagued by back injuries and self doubt but Sunday's result could prove a turning point.
"I was feeling good in the last few weeks. I felt in training that something was happening. But to win...it's a strange feeling, very hard to describe."
Local favorite Lara Gut, who had clocked the fastest times in training, was forced out of the race to undergo medical checks on an injured right knee.
(Reporting by Manuele Lang; Editing by Tom Hayward)