Lindsey Vonn showed signs of regaining her pre-injury speed by finishing just behind Switzerland's Dominique Gisin in the women's second World Cup downhill training run at Val d'Isere on Thursday.
Gisin came down the 2.9km-long OK (Oreiller Killy) course, featuring a vertical drop of 737 metres and on which racers hit speeds in excess of 110kmh, in 1min 49.07sec, with US star Vonn just four-hundredths adrift.
Slovenia's reigning world super-G champion Tina Maze produced a strong second-half of the course to come in third at 0.16sec.
Austrian trio Anna Fenniger, Elisabeth Goergl and Stefanie Moser were next fastest, ahead of Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch, who won back-to-back downhills in Lake Louise, Canada, at the start of this month.
"I had a good feeling on the piste," said Gisin, 28. "I'm happy that I managed to build some speed in the flat bits of the top section today.
"I made mistakes there yesterday. It gives me confidence going into the race on Saturday.
"I've been comfortable on my skis in the past weeks. In Lake Louise, the feeling was already good even if I made some little mistakes. I have to keep improving and hopefully it will pay off soon."
It was another step in the right direction for Vonn, the 29-year-old whose career was put on the line after a terrible crash at last February's World Championships in Schladming.
In her fight to regain full fitness in time to defend her Olympic downhill title, Vonn opted out of competing at St Moritz last weekend after returning to competition at Lake Louise, where she finished 40th and 11th.
She demonstrated steady progress over three races in her first starts since reconstructive surgery on her right knee, and confirmed that with her outings in training here.
Such is the American's ability in speed events, you have to go back to January 2007 for the last time Vonn participated in three straight World Cup downhill races without making the podium.
She is hunting a record-making fourth downhill victory at Val d'Isere, having previously won in 2005, 2006 and 2010.
A win would also edge her closer to Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell's record of 62 World Cup victories - Vonn has 59.
Current World Cup leader Lara Gut of Switzerland, who won last year's downhill race on the same course, took it steady under falling snow, finishing in 19th spot, 2.10sec behind Gisin.
"It gets harder when it snows and that's why the piste was a bit slower," she said.
"I hope the conditions will be regular for everyone. I know the piste quite well, but my two training runs haven't been ideal. I need to find the right balance between the line and the soft way to ski to be fast on this specific slope."
Liechtenstein's big hope Tina Weirather, who has finished second in two of the three World Cup downhill races this season, came in ninth, 0.87sec off the pace, just ahead of Spain's Carolina Ruiz Castillo who was a further 0.4secs slower.
A third training run is scheduled for 0930 GMT on Friday, when snow is also forecast.
The downhill is scheduled for 0930 GMT on Saturday, with a giant slalom slated for Sunday (runs at 0930 and 1230 GMT).