Hoefl-Riesch clocked 1 minute, 49.17 seconds down the Rosa Khutor slope for her second victory this season and first in downhill. She beat Elisabeth Goergl by 0.43 seconds and Vonn by 0.59.
With two downhills remaining this season and wins worth 100 points each, Vonn holds an unassailable 231-point lead over Hoefl-Riesch in the discipline standings.
“Downhill is my favorite event and it’s always nice to wrap up a title before the end of the season, before the last races,” Vonn said. “It puts a little less pressure on me.”
Hoefl-Riesch also had a win in the test event for the 2010 Vancouver Games.
“It’s really important,” the German said. “In Whistler, two years before the Olympics I won the super-combined and I (did well) in the downhill and I won two gold medals two years later. But it’s never a guarantee, it’s just good to know you can be fast on a special track where a big event takes place.”
Vonn has an even bigger lead in the overall standings, where she is 448 points ahead of Slovenia’s Tina Maze and 486 points in front of Hoefl-Riesch, who ended Vonn’s run of three consecutive overall titles last season.
The start of the race was delayed by 15 minutes as organizers cleared overnight snowfall off the course, and there were a few more delays once it started due to clouds moving over the course, limiting visibility.
Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein finished fourth, Marion Rolland was fifth and Julia Mancuso, of the United States, was sixth.
Also, Stacey Cook finished ninth and Alice McKennis was 10th as the U.S. Ski Team placed four racers in the top 10 for one of its best overall results.
Nadja Kamer and Lotte Smiseth Sejersted crashed, but both avoided serious injury.