Kaitlyn Farrington captured gold for Team USA, edging defending champion Torah Bright and American teammate Kelly Clark for the title.
Farrington scored 91.75 during her second run, just good enough to beat Bright's 91.50. Clark, who smacked the wall during her first run in the finals, recovered to earn bronze and win her third Olympic medal.
Farrington, who lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, had spent most of the run-up to the games playing second-fiddle to Clark, the 2002 Olympic champion. The 24-year-old needed to navigate the semifinals to reach the medal round but responded brilliantly.
The victory gave the U.S. just its third gold medal of the Games, all of them coming at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.
Also Wednesday, the women's downhill race ended in a tie for gold in a rare moment at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
Slovenia's Tina Maze and Switzerland's Dominique Gisin took very different paths during the race - but both paths ended in gold. Gisin, the eighth woman down the Rosa Khutor course, was good enough early and fantastic at the end. A half-hour later, starting 20th, Maze followed a tighter line, faster than Gisin most of the way, until a mistake shortly before the final leap slowed her.
At the end of it all, they were each other's equal. Exactly - right down to the hundredth of a second. Gisin finished in 1 minute, 41.57 seconds. Maze finished in 1 minute, 41.57 seconds.
So two gold medals were awarded - the first time that's happened in 78 years of Olympic Alpine skiing.
In a field missing injured defending champion Lindsey Vonn, Gisin's Swiss teammate Lara Gut got the bronze, 0.10 seconds back.
During the flower ceremony, Maze and Gisin held hands while they climbed together to the top step of the podium, a scene Maze described as "two happy faces."
This was the fifth tie in Olympic skiing, but the others involved an extra silver or bronze. Most recently, two silvers were awarded for the men's super-G at the 1998 Nagano Games.
A look at Wednesday's events:
FIGURE SKATING: Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov maintained Russia's long tradition in pairs, winning gold in their home Olympics. Teammates Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov took silver. Russia or the Soviet Union had won gold in 12 straight Olympics in the event before the streak ended four years ago. "I think tonight all of the country will celebrate this beautiful victory," Trankov said. Germany's Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy took bronze.
SPEEDSKATING: The Dutch ruled at the oval again, with the Netherlands' Stefan Groothuis taking the gold in the 1,000 meters and upsetting two-time Olympic champion Shani Davis of the U.S. Groothuis won in 1 minute, 8.39 seconds and was followed by Denny Morrison of Canada who took silver and 500 champion Michel Mulder of the Netherlands who took bronze. Davis came in eighth, denied in his bid to become the first man to win the same speedskating event at three straight Olympics.
MEN'S HOCKEY: Sweden showed off its deep offensive talent in its Olympic opener, getting two goals from Erik Karlsson and one from Henrik Zetterberg in a 4-2 win over the Czech Republic. Switzerland also won, but needed a late deflection to beat Latvia 1-0. The Swiss scored with 7.9 seconds left, and Simon Moser was credited with the goal that appeared to carom off a Latvian player in front of the net.
WOMEN'S HOCKEY: Canada defeated the U.S. in women's hockey 3-2 in a preview of the expected gold medal match. Meghan Agosta scored twice for Canada and assisted on Hayley Wickenheiser's goal. This was the fifth time these teams have met in the Olympics, but the first since women's hockey was added to the Winter Games in 1998 that they have played in the preliminary round. In the day's other game, Finland beat Switzerland 4-3.
NORDIC COMBINED: Germany's Eric Frenzel won the individual normal hill. He led after ski jumping and powered home on the cross-country course. Frenzel, the runaway World Cup leader, was followed by Akito Watabe of Japan who took silver and Magnus Krog of Norway who took bronze. Billy Demong of the U.S., the defending gold medalist on the large hill, finished 24th overall.
CURLING: China's curlers kept up their surprise run by beating Switzerland and Germany, leaving the team at the top of the standings with four straight wins. With Sweden (3-1) losing to Denmark 8-5 in the evening session, Norway (3-0) is the only other unbeaten team in the competition after defeating Germany 8-5 in the morning. On the women's side, undefeated Canada downed Britain 9-6 in a game that went down to the final stone and sent the U.S. to the edge of elimination. The Canadians joined Switzerland in first place at 3-0.
LUGE: Germany, the world's sliding superpower, won its third straight gold medal in luge at the Sochi Games as Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt captured the doubles competition. Known as "The two Tobis," Wendl and Arlt completed their two trips down the Sanki Sliding center track in 1 minute, 38.933 seconds, 0.522 ahead of Andreas and Wolfgang Linger of Austria, who were trying to become the first doubles team to win gold three times in a row. Andris Sics and his brother, Juris, won the bronze in 1:39.790.
ALPINE SKIING: Slovenia's Tina Maze and Switzerland's Dominique Gisin tied for gold, and Switzerland's Lara Gut took bronze.
SNOWBOARDING: In the women's halfpipe finals, American Kaitlyn Farrington took gold, Australia's Torah Bright took silver and American Kelly Clark took bronze.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.