Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy Jan. 22 (AP by Vania Grandi)--France's Regine Cavagnoud trounced her rivals, winning the World Cup downhill in Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy, for the second consecutive year.
The 29-year-old French veteran burst onto the ski scene in Cortina last year, winning a back-to-back downhill and super-G _ her first victories after nine years on the World Cup tour.
But a few weeks later, Cavagnoud tore a knee ligament during downhill training at the World Championships in Vail and sat out the rest of the season.
``To be able to celebrate a victory so soon after my injury is incredible,'' Cavagnoud said.
Cavagnoud resumed training in August, but only started skiing downhill in November.
``I was super motivated to race here because of the great feeling I had last year when I won,'' Cavagnoud said. ``I was hoping it would be the turning point of my season.''
Cavagnoud is winless this season in super-G, but earned a giant slalom win in November for a total of four career victories.
Cavagnoud carried her speed perfectly through the winding turns, attacked the jumps and stayed low and compact on the straight sections.
She completed the Olympia delle Tofane course _ among the fastest on the women's tour with top speeds of 76 mph _ in one minute, 34.01 seconds.
Austria's Tanja Schneider was nearly a second back in 1:34.94.
``I may be a small person,'' Schneider said, ``but I have a great determination.''
The 25-year-old Austrian was also the runner-up in the super-G in Altenmarkt, Austria, last week.
Third place went to Slovenian Mojca Suhadolc, winner of the super-G in Lake Louise, Canada, in November.
``My season has been quite inconsistent so I am happy with this result because it shows I am getting back in shape,'' Suhadolc said.
Isolde Kostner of Italy, the local favorite, made a string of errors and finished 13th, 1.65 seconds behind Cavagnoud.
``It's quite a disappointment,'' said Kostner, who still managed to hold onto her lead in the World Cup downhill standings.
``I was hoping to do well, especially considering I was so charged up for this race,'' Kostner said.
The Italian has collected three downhill and one super-G triumphs at the resort, plus a second and third place.
Kirsten Clark was the top North American in 19th.
Cavagnoud's downhill victory last year ended a 17-year drought by French women in the event.
Originally scheduled for Friday, the downhill was postponed because high winds made racing dangerous. Saturday's super-G was canceled. Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press