Austria's Michaela Dorfmeister ended her Olympic career with gold in the women's downhill in San Sicario.
Dorfmeister was the first Austrian to take gold in 26 years
Dorfmeister, 32, clocked one minute 56.49 seconds to hold off Martina Schild of Switzerland and Sweden's Anja Paerson, who took the bronze.
Chemmy Alcott finished in 11th place in 1:57.85 - the best downhill result for a British woman in the Olympics for nearly 40 years.
Londoner Felicity Field was sixth in the downhill in Grenoble back in 1968.
"My coach gave me a choice to be either fast or scared," said Alcott. "I chose to be fast, even though my skiing was a bit messy."
Despite Austria's world dominance in ski racing, Dorfmeister was the nation's first athlete to win the Olympic downhill since Annemarie Moser-Proell at the 1980 Lake Placid Games.
Former world champion Dorfmeister, who will retire next month, wept in the finish area as she realised she had won her first Olympic gold.
"This was my last dream," she said. "Now I will be able to retire with a perfect feeling and I can't wait to start a new life.
"I have been so nervous for the last two days. I couldn't sleep. My legs were so heavy at the start of the race, then I said to myself: 'Hey, let's go for it'."
Alcott is Britain's only female skier at the Games
Schild, who has had only one top-10 finish on the World Cup circuit this season, was fastest in Monday's downhill training run.
"I felt this was my course and my day," said Schild.
Paerson, two-time defending overall World Cup champion, won two medals at the 2002 Olympics, a silver in the giant slalom and bronze in the slalom.
Last year's World Cup downhill champion Renate Goetschl of Austria was disappointed to finish fourth, just 0.07 seconds behind Paerson.
"It is the same as getting an 'E' in an exam," said Goetschl, who has two silver and two bronze medals from previous Olympics and world championships.
World champion Janica Kostelic, of Croatia, was ruled out of the race, because of a high pulse rate.
Defending Olympic champion Carole Montillet-Carles, of France, finished well off the pace after suffering a bad crash in training on Monday.
"It was my decision [to race] and it was the right one. I could not face watching the race from my bedroom or from the bottom," she said.
"I had prepared for this day for the last 10 months and it was my one and only goal of the season. I could not give up so close to my goal."
American Lindsey Kildow, who was rushed to hospital in Turin after a crash on Monday, finished eighth.
Dorfmeister had made no secret of her desire to fill the one gap in her trophy cabinet.
Twice a world champion in the speed events, overall World Cup champion in 2002 and four times a winner of season-long titles in the individual cups, she had never quite made the grade at the Olympics.
In 1998, she took silver in the super-G, missing out to winner Picabo Street, of the United States, by one hundredth of a second.
Her best result in the last Games in Salt Lake City was fourth in giant slalom.