Lotto Smiseth Sejersted, the reigning World Juniors downhill champ, blew down the course at Garmisch in 1 minute, 49.55 seconds, more than a half second ahead of American Julia Mancuso.
Maria Riesch of Germany, the overall World Cup points leader, skipped Thursday's practice run due to a fever. Second-place Lindsey Vonn of the United States was given medical clearance to ski Thursday and turned in a 2:01.90.
The U.S. Ski Association noted that Vonn, who suffered a concussion Feb. 2, skied in full warm-up gear and admittedly throttled back while under the watchful eye of team doctors. "The main aim today was to figure out if I can concentrate the whole way down and compete without having the headache come back," Vonn said. "I needed to make sure I can defend my downhill title feeling totally healthy."
Other notables Thursday were Lara Gut of Switzerland, who finished seventh, and Marie Marchand-Arvier of France who finished 14th after turning in the best time on Wednesday's first training run.
Austria's Elisabeth Goergl had the 13th-fastest time. She is in third place in the World Cup overall standings and won the World Championships super G on Monday.
"I did not have an optimal run and made mistakes in the first two turns and also in the flats," Goergl said. "But I know what to do better and I can step it up a notch on race day."