SOELDEN, Austria (Reuters) - Lindsey Vonn became the fifth female skier to win in all five Alpine disciplines when she claimed her maiden giant slalom victory in the opening race of the World Cup season on Saturday.
The American, who had managed just one previous podium placing in the discipline, outclassed her rivals to triumph in a combined time of two minutes 24.43 seconds.
Multiple world and Olympic champion Vonn, beaten last year for the overall World Cup crystal globe by arch-rival Maria Hoefl-Riesch, was the only contender to fully master the flat end of the Soelden glacier.
Downhill and Super-G world champion Elisabeth Goergl of Austria was third in 2:24.83.
Up and coming Italian Federica Brignone, 21, was fastest in the morning run but failed to complete the second leg.
It was Vonn's 42nd World Cup victory and gave an ominous warning to her rivals this season, especially German Hoefl-Riesch who finished a lowly 24th.
"My best result here was ninth so it's a great change. It's the first giant slalom win of my career and it's hard to describe," Vonn told reporters.
"I now hope to keep this momentum going. I have a lot of confidence now. I'm going to keep fighting," she added after joining Petra Kronberger, Pernilla Wiberg, Anja Paerson and Janica Kostelic by winning in all five disciplines.
Vonn lost the World Cup to Hoefl-Riesch by three points last season but in terms of 42 race wins she is now on a par with Swede Paerson.
"It was one of my career goals to win in all disciplines but it's a personal thing. I'm not comparing myself to others," said the American.
After finishing third in a giant slalom in the Czech resort of Spindleruv Mlyn in March, Vonn finally knew she could do well in her worst discipline.
However, she was far from confident ahead of Saturday's race. She crashed in practice on Thursday and could barely train leading into the event.
"I was very nervous but I knew exactly what I had to do," she said.
Vonn's narrow defeat by Hoefl-Riesch last season spurred her into training with more vigor in the off season.
"I usually train hard in the summer but I trained even harder. It was nothing to do with revenge. I am my own motivation," she said.
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)