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Hoelzl claims shock giant slalom victory

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  • Germany's Kathrin Hoelzl completes shock victory in women's giant slalom
  • The 24-year-old collects Germany's first world championship gold since 2001
  • Tina Maze of Slovenia finishes second with Finland's Tanja Poutiainen in third
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(CNN) -- Germany's Kathrin Hoelzl has completed a shock victory in the women's giant slalom at the world skiing championships at Val D'Isere on Thursday.

Hoelzl powers down the Bellevarde piste on her way to a shock victory in the women's giant slalom.

Hoelzl powers down the Bellevarde piste on her way to a shock victory in the women's giant slalom.

The 24-year-old failed to finish in the top three on either of her two runs on the tricky Bellevarde piste, coming home fourth on her first descent and sixth on the second.

However, Hoelzl's combined time of two minutes 03.49 seconds still proved enough to snatch Germany's first world championship gold since 2001, as a steady stream of race favorites made crucial mistakes along the course.

Tina Maze of Slovenia finished second -- 0.09 seconds behind -- to hand her country their first world medal, also since 2001.

Finland's Tanja Poutiainen added world bronze to her Olympic and 2005 world silver medals in the discipline, finishing 0.54 seconds behind.

"I am very surprised, even though I had hoped to make a good performance on this very difficult slope, this gold medal is really sensational," Hoelzl told the official world championship Web site.

"At the start of the second round, I had nothing to lose and I took risks in order to fight for a spot on the podium that I felt was in my reach. I was lucky it turned out so well on the bumpy course," she added.

It was Germany's first worldtitle since Martina Ertl won the super combined in St Anton in 2001, and the first major tournament podium since Ertl's bronze at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, also in the combined.

Meanwhile, Croatia's Ivica Kostelic, who has been suffering from a back injury, has pulled out of the men's slalom to concentrate on the World Cup, in which he currently leads the overall standings.

Kostelic, 29, returned to Croatia on Saturday to receive treatment on back pains that saw him withdraw from both the Super-G and super-combined.

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