Aksel Lund Svindal and Anna Fenninger moved into the top spots in alpine skiing's overall standings on Wednesday after solid showings in the men's and women's downhill races at the World Cup finals at Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
The final women's downhill of the season was won by Lara Gut of Switzerland, the Olympic bronze medallist, but the drama centered on a crash by 2011 champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch.
The 29-year-old German was taken by helicopter off the slope and then brought to a nearby hospital for treatment.
"She has pain in the shoulder and back on the right side. We don't know yet but we don't expect any fracture or [dislocation]," Germany team spokesman Ralph Eder told The Associated Press by telephone.
Fenninger was sixth-fastest before Hoefl-Riesch started last in what has shaped up as a back-and-forth duel for the overall title.
Hoefl-Riesch crashed midway down when her skis slipped away beneath her at a sharp right-hand turn. She slid off course and became tangled in the safety nets.
With Fenninger failing to win the race, Hoefl-Riesch had clinched the season-long downhill title minutes before entering the start gate. But she missed valuable points toward the bigger prize.
The downhill trophy ceremony went ahead after the race with an empty top step on the podium and the German anthem playing as the helicopter landed nearby.
Fenninger earned 40 points to take an 11-point lead overall. That could be enough for her first title if Hoefl-Riesch is unable to compete in the three remaining races this week.
"I hope Maria can race again. I don't know how she is," Fenninger said. "My focus is on the next two races. What she is doing, I can't change."
The 24-year-old Austrian will start in super-G on Thursday and the season-ending giant slalom on Sunday.
Hoefl-Riesch was scheduled to start all four races at the World Cup Finals. She is chasing a second overall title after getting her third Olympic gold medal in Sochi last month.
Still, no woman has won more World Cup races this season than Gut, who got her sixth victory and second in downhill.
Gut won in 1 minute, 32.31 seconds, beating Elisabeth Goergl of Austria by 0.05 seconds. Fraenzi Aufdenblatten of Switzerland was third, 0.57 behind, in her final World Cup race before retiring.
No Canadians were in the 23-skier field, which was reserved for the world's top downhillers.
Svindal takes men's lead
Norway's Svindal retook the men's overall lead by placing fifth in Wednesday's downhill won by Olympic champion Matthias Mayer of Austria.
Svindal earned 45 points to move 41 ahead of two-time defending overall champion Marcel Hirscher of Austria, who skips downhills.
"If I had to put money on someone I have no idea who it would be," said Svindal, who will race against Hirscher in a super-G on Thursday.
Mayer earned his first career World Cup win in 1 minute, 29.99 seconds, 0.11 faster than Christof Innerhofer of Italy and Ted Ligety of the United States, who tied for second. Svindal was 0.20 seconds behind Mayer.
Mayer and Innerhofer finished 1-2 in the downhill at the Sochi Olympics.
"It's very important," Mayer said of his win. "It was a target for me to win a World Cup race this year. It's perfect."
Manuel Osborne-Paradis was the top Canadian, finishing 13th. Erik Guay was 19th, clinching third place for himself in the season standings.
Guay matched his best career finish for a downhill season despite a knee injury that sidelined the 32-year-old over the summer and interrupted his season prior to the Sochi Olympics.
“I feel like I could have been competitive for the Crystal Globe if I’d been healthy," Guay said. "It’s a little bit of a bummer to finish on this note but finishing third overall gives me [hope] for next year.”
On Thursday, Guay and Osborne-Paradis will wrap up their World Cup seasons in the super-G.
Ligety's career-best result in downhill lifted him to third in the overall standings. His previous best in downhill was fourth, in 2007 at Lenzerheide where the steep, twisting course suits his technical skills.
"This is a hill I know I have a good chance on," said Ligety, the world champion in super-G. "I also don't count on this carrying through to other races on the World Cup downhill tour."
Svindal, a two-time overall champion, already clinched his second straight season-long downhill title before the World Cup Finals.
"I used to be 1-2-3 every race, and now I'm 4-5-6," said the Norwegian, who has finished just off the podium since the Olympics. "But Marcel is too."
Svindal is scheduled to start the giant slalom on Saturday, but skip Sunday's season-ending slalom, which is typically Hirscher's best event.
Bode Miller of the United States seemed poised for victory on Wednesday until going wide near the end of his run. He placed eighth, 0.62 behind Mayer.
Several racers found trouble on the hard, bumpy snow despite the clear, sunny conditions. Austrian Georg Streitberger twisted in the air while crashing when more than a half-second ahead of Mayer midway down.