The Italian, injured during training before the first race of the season in Soelden in October, finished 0.23 seconds behind winner Nicole Schmidhofer of Austria in the weather-delayed race.
Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami was third, a further 0.45 seconds behind.
Kriechmayr posts quickest time in men's Downhill training
Americans Lindsey Vonn and runaway championship leader Mikaela Shiffrin both missed the race.
Vonn, widely-regarded as the best women's skier of alltime, said last week that she might retire immediately after suffering knee pain during the Super G at Cortina.
On Wednesday, she said she was hopeful that she could ski again but would not be racing in Garmisch.
Shiffrin, the runaway overall World Cup leader this season, decided to sit out this weekend's races to prepare for the world championships in Are, Sweden, in February.
Venier wins first World Cup event in downhill
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