Janka's win was his third of the year in downhill
Switzerland's Carlo Janka won the final downhill of the season in Garmisch-Partenkirchen to take the overall World Cup lead with three races remaining.
Janka's third downhill win of the year gave him a 54-point lead over Austria's Benjamin Raich.
Raich did not compete in the downhill and will look for points in the slalom and giant slalom instead.
Germany's Maria Riesch beat American Lindsay Vonn to keep the race for the overall women's title alive.
Olympic giant slalom champion Janka edged Mario Scheiber of Austria, meaning the Austrian team did not win a downhill race all season for the first time since 1991-92. Patrick Kueng of Switzerland and Erik Guay of Canada shared third place.
ALPINE SKIING'S CRYSTAL GLOBES
Overall: To be decided. Lindsey Vonn has hefty lead in women's contest, Carlo Janka leads Benjamin Raich and Didier Cuche in men's event
Downhill: Already won by Cuche and Vonn
Super-G: Already won by Cuche and Vonn
Slalom & giant slalom: To be decided in Garmisch
Janka covered the 3,300m Kandahar course in one minute 58.45 seconds. Scheiber was .02 seconds behind and Kueng and Guay, who won a super-G race in Kvitfjell, Norway on Sunday, were both .07 behind.
Didier Cuche of Switzerland had already secured the downhill title and finished eighth skiing with a sore back.
"I am still in the race, it will be close and I think it will go to the wire," said Janka, who is seeking to become the first overall champion from Switzerland since Paul Accola in 1992.
"I knew that this was the event where I needed to win some points. The race was very tight and I was the lucky one, I was on the right side of the clock.
"It's still in the cards, the course suits me and I think I can be fast on Thursday as well [in the super-G].
"These are the races I needed to do well in because I will be behind Raich in the technical events. It will be good to have a good margin on my side going into the technical races."
Vonn, who took gold in the Olympic downhill, could have clinched her third straight overall title on Wednesday but she still retains a 225-point lead going into the final three races. A win is worth 100 points.
"I haven't won it yet," said Vonn, who had already clinched the downhill title. "It's not finished yet. It's still possible [for Riesch to win], it's unlikely but it's not finished."
THE SEASON FINALE
Wed 10 Mar: Downhill
Thu 11 Mar: Giant slalom
Fri 12 Mar: Super-G
Sat 13 Mar: Slalom
Double Olympic champion Riesch claimed an emphatic victory on her home course, leaving Vonn and the rest of the field far behind. Anja Paerson of Sweden was third, more than a second behind Riesch.
Riesch came down the 2,920m Kandahar course in one minute 34.82 seconds. Vonn was .48 seconds behind and Paerson 1.13 back.
"If Lindsey is half a second behind, I must have had a really good race," said Riesch, who won slalom and combined gold in Vancouver.
Although Riesch cut Vonn's overall lead by 20 points, the German said she had given up hope of collecting that title.
She said: "I am still 200 points behind, I don't think it's possible. The pressure is off. I am proud of today's win, this is the course for next year's World Championship and it's good to know that I can be fast on it."
Vonn clinched the downhill title last Saturday in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, which was her sixth downhill win of the season. She won all but two races. The American is also sure of the super-G title .
She can become the American with the most World Cup wins this weekend - she is currently tied with Bode Miller on 32. Miller ended his season early to rest a sore right ankle and is not competing at the World Cup finals.