Maria Hoefl-Riesch proved she is still the world's best all-round woman skier when she retained her Olympic super combined title on Monday with a thrilling surge in the slalom.
Only fifth following the earlier downhill section, the German laid down a tremendous run through the 59 tricky gates on the Rosa Khutor course to win with a combined time of 2:34.62.
Julia Mancuso, who was second to Hoefl-Riesch in Vancouver four years ago, had set the pace in the downhill section, building a one-second advantage over the tall German.
However, despite a battling effort on her less favoured slalom discipline the American leaked time and ended up third, with Austrian Nicole Hosp moving through the field to take silver.
Swiss Lara Gut, second after the downhill, was one of nine skiers who failed to reach the bottom of a testing slalom course that became bumpy in the mild conditions.
With a brass band pumping up the atmosphere at the mountain venue, Hoefl-Riesch bombed out of the starting gate for the slalom and produced a near perfect descent to capture the first women's gold of the Alpine skiing programme at the Sochi Games.
Despite failing to hold her halfway lead, former Olympic giant slalom champion Mancuso looked delighted to cling to a podium spot, 0.10 seconds ahead of Slovenian all-rounder Tina Maze, warmly embracing Hoefl-Riesch in the finish area.
"It wasn't good," Maze told reporters. "I was trying to find the right feeling and I didn't manage it."
Her next chance will come in Wednesday's downhill where World Cup leader Hoefl-Reisch will again start as favourite and will have the chance to equal Croatian Janica Kostelic's record for Olympic Alpine skiing gold medals.