Sara Hector continued her fine season with victory in the women's giant slalom ©Getty Images

Sweden's Sara Hector decorated a superb and somewhat surprising season with an Olympic gold medal in the women's giant slalom at Beijing 2022, while Beat Feuz from Switzerland won the men's downhill.

Hector was among the favourites for the title at the Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Centre after winning three of the six giant slalom World Cup races so far this season and making the podium in another two.

Yet prior to the 2021-2022 season, Hector had only won one World Cup race - also in giant slalom - and had three podiums to her name from the 2014-2015 campaign.

Finishing just seventh in the 2019 World Championships and 10th at Pyeongchang 2018 in this discipline, a medal tilt was a step up for the 29-year-old, but Hector's first run in the final today put her top of the standings and meant half the job was done.

Hector's task was made easier when perhaps her biggest rival on paper, American Mikaela Shiffrin, was disqualified after missing a gate on run one, while Marta Bassino of Italy did not finish her opener either.

Slovakian Petra Vlhová, the defending overall Alpine Ski World Cup champion, was not on form and stood 13th at the halfway stage.

Lara Gut-Behrami was the quickest skier in the giant slalom second run, moving onto the podium ©Getty Images
Lara Gut-Behrami was the quickest skier in the giant slalom second run, moving onto the podium ©Getty Images

The second run saw more contenders fall away, but first, Switzerland's Lara Gut-Behrami put in the quickest run of the day to propel herself from up from eighth, eventually finishing in third.

Gut-Behrami stopped the clock at 57.34sec - 0.22 quicker than Hector's leading first-run effort.

Tessa Worley of France, a giant slalom World Cup winner this season, was the first to crash out as she chased the deficit the Swiss skier had created, and was followed by American Nina O'Brien who clipped a gate at the bottom of the slope.

O'Brien was carried off the course on a stretcher, having slid down the remainder of the piste after the collision.

Austrian Katharina Truppe - second at the interval - was 0.08 behind Gut-Behrami and missed the podium by as much, after Italian Federica Brignone took the lead away from Gut-Behrami and laid down a marker Hector went on to beat.

Hector's lead was shortening at every time gate, but she managed to find time in the final sector to win in 1min 55.69sec, 0.26sec in front of the Italian and 0.72 ahead of Gut-Behrami.

Feuz gave Switzerland the gold medal in the first Alpine skiing final of the Games, improving on his bronze from four years ago.

With Pyeongchang 2018 champion Aksel Lund Svindal retired and silver medallist Kjetil Jansrud not starting due to injury, Feuz had only one top Norwegian to deal with - the discipline's World Cup leader Aleksander Aamodt Kilde.

Kilde - along with Austrian Matthias Mayer and Italian Christof Innerhofer - completed a third training run before the race director deemed it unsafe due to high winds, outraging Jansrud, who was still aiming to compete in downhill at that point and claimed it was unfair to those who could not try out the course.

Beat Feuz claimed the men's downhill gold medal - Switzerland's first victory of Beijing 2022 ©Getty Images
Beat Feuz claimed the men's downhill gold medal - Switzerland's first victory of Beijing 2022 ©Getty Images

Yet the perceived advantage was not converted into a gold as Feuz made it to the finish line in 1:42.69 for the victory, beating 41-year-old Johan Clarey of France by 0.10sec.

Clarey became the oldest Alpine skier to win an Olympic medal by claiming the silver today, beating a record previously held by American Bode Miller.

Mayer, who was Olympic downhill champion at Sochi 2014, won a second medal in the discipline, 0.16 behind the victor.

James Crawford of Canada and Kilde completed the top five.

Overall World Cup leader Marco Odermatt from Switzerland and reigning world champion Vincent Kriechmayr of Austria were seventh and eighth, respectively, behind Dominik Paris of Italy.

The men's super-G, in which Mayer is the defending champion, is scheduled tomorrow.