By Patrick Lang
CORTINA D'AMPEZZO, Italy (Reuters) - Lindsey Vonn returned to her winning ways after a self-imposed Christmas break when she dominated the Cortina d'Ampezzo downhill for the third time on Saturday.
The American, already crowned in the Italian resort in 2008 and 2010, took her third victory in one minute 38.25 seconds.
While she struggled a bit on her return to competition last weekend in St Anton, Vonn was back to her best on Saturday, collecting her 58th World Cup victory and her fifth this season.
World Cup overall leader Tina Maze continued her unstoppable path towards her first big trophy by finishing second, 0.43 seconds adrift.
The Slovenian now leads nearest contender Maria Hoefl-Reisch by a seemingly unbridgeable 670 points as the German failed to complete the course.
Vonn's compatriot Leanne Smith was third, 0.89 off the pace, for her second downhill podium of the season.
It was the third time two Americans had been in the top three in the discipline this season and a great confidence booster for the team as this was the last downhill before the Schladming world championships in two weeks' time.
Vonn, who took a three-week break around New Year to solve health and personal problems, is comfortably leading the downhill World Cup, a title she has won for the past five seasons.
She will again be the favorite in Sunday's super-G on the same course, a race she has already won four times.
(Editing by Clare Fallon)
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