(CNN) -- Defending champion Tina Maze was upstaged as Tessa Worley stormed to the gold in the women's giant slalom event at the Alpine Skiing World Championships in Schladming, Austria on Thursday.
Worley edged out the favored Slovenian by 1.12 seconds, clocking a combined time of two minutes and 8.6 seconds for her two runs to improve on her third-place finish at the 2011 event in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
"How do I feel? Just amazing, it's incredible," the 23-year-old Frenchwoman told the event's official website.
"It's been hard today. It was a very tough course and I had to concentrate on myself only, letting my skis go and not do too many mistakes. My dream has just become true. It feels great!"
It was France's fourth medal of the two-week championships, and second gold by a woman after Marion Rolland's shock downhill victory, leaving the European nation top of the leaderboard.
"We are having a very strong team and a great atmosphere here in Schladming," said Worley, who has an Australian father and French mother. "I am now part of the medalists."
Worley is 13th in the World Cup standings and fifth in the giant slalom rankings.
Maze heads both categories ahead of the resumption of the series in the German town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen next weekend, and looks destined to capture the title from U.S. star Lindsey Vonn.
Vonn had surgery on torn ligaments earlier this week following a crash right at the start of the world championships and is now battling to be fit for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Maze admitted it had been a difficult day, although she did take consolation from her second run as she added to her gold in the super-G race and silver in the super-combined.
"Today was really hard for me," said the 29-year-old. "I didn't race too good in the first run, my second run was amazing, though. I am really appreciating this silver medal today."
The bronze medal went to Austria's Anna Fenninger, who beat off competition from compatriot Kathrin Zettel -- extending the host nation's wait for a first individual gold of the competition, having won only Tuesday's mixed teams event.
Fenninger was relieved to have won her first medal of the championships, having claimed super-combined gold in 2011.
"I went back home to tank some energy, it was an excellent move," the 23-year-old said. "I didn't believe in my chances for that race and I was able to forget about the past races here and start everything from scratch again today. I'm very satisfied to get that medal now."
The final event in the women's schedule will be Saturday's slalom, in which American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin leads the World Cup standings ahead of Maze.
Shiffrin's compatriot Ted Ligety will be seeking his third gold of the championships as he bids to defend his giant slalom title on Friday, and the men's program concludes with Sunday's slalom race.