Reuters - Maria Riesch won her first World Cup slalom in more than four years when she claimed victory in La Molina, Spain, on Sunday.
German Riesch, who had not prevailed in the technical discipline since her success in February 2004 in Levi, Finland, performed best in both legs to clock a combined best of 1:52.98 and beat American Lindsey Vonn by 1.48 seconds.
Austrian Kathrin Zettel was third, over two seconds off the pace.
The result meant that Vonn reclaimed top spot in the World Cup overall standings from Finn Tanja Poutiainen, who had to be content with sixth place in the Spanish ski resort.
"It had been a long time since my last slalom win," said Riesch, who snatched her first World Cup victory since winning a super-combined in Whistler, Canada, in February.
"It was not easy for me but I had already shown I was close (to victory) several times."
However, Riesch, who is one of Vonn's best friends, said she was extremely surprised by her performance.
"There was a lot of competition. When I skied today, I had the feeling I could be in the top 10. Sharing this victory with Lindsey is also a huge pleasure," the 24-year-old said.
"It gives me a lot of confidence ahead of St Moritz."
The women's World Cup now moves to the Swiss resort for downhill, super-G and super-combined races from Dec. 17 to 21.
"I now cannot wait to show what I'm capable of in the speed events and in super-combined," added Riesch.
Vonn, who improved from fourth in the first leg, was relieved to have recovered from an embarrassing performance in Saturday's giant slalom, when she failed to make it to the second leg.
"It could not be worse than yesterday," said Vonn, who won the first slalom of the year in Levi last month.
"I knew that I could perform well because the course is similar to Levi's. Yesterday, I had lost hope but now I found the real Lindsey before going to St Moritz.
"Maria won and it's even more beautiful than if I had won myself."
Olympic champion Anja Paerson of Sweden, who has not claimed a podium finish in a slalom World Cup since March 2007, was fifth after clocking the third fastest time in the first leg.