The 27-year-old, who finished second two weeks ago at Lake Louise, Canada, finished in 1 minute, 47.28 seconds, and edged World Cup champion Tina Maze of Slovenia by 0.29 seconds.
"I really don't know why it started going well in Lake Louise," said Kaufmann-Abderhalden. "Here I expected more because it's [Val d'Isere] like a second home for the Swiss, but I certainly did not expect to win."
Kaufmann-Abderhalden seemed to gain her advantage by blowing through the tricky middle section of the course, which was bumpy enough to throw several skiers off track enough to cost them valuable time.
One competitor who was undone by the middle was American Lindsey Vonn, who had to pull up short and failed to finish her run as she continued her recovery from knee surgery. "I didn't hurt myself more than I'm already hurt," said Vonn, who is working her way into shape for the Winter Olympics in February. "It was a small compression, and it was fully loaded on the right ski. I had no chance of making that gate, unfortunately."
Leanne Smith was the top U.S. finisher with a 1:48.79. Austria's Cornelia Hutter placed third and Tina Weirather of Lichtenstein finished in fourth place.