Yarnold takes World Cup gold after disqualification

Lizzy Yarnold was upgraded to World Cup skeleton gold after American Noelle Pikis-Pace was disqualified in Calgary.

Yarnold was leading heading into the second run but her rival produced a storming performance to claim the first race of the season by 0.16 seconds.

But cheers turned to tears after she failed a post-race equipment inspection, following a complaint from the British team about tape that was applied to the handle of her sled.

Her disqualification secured Yarnold a third career World Cup podium - and her first since winning again in Calgary in 2012 - while Russia's Elena Nikitina moved up to second and Australia's Michelle Steele took third.

Pikis-Pace and the British team have some history. At the 2010 Olympics, after she narrowly missed bronze, her American coaches complained about irregularities with British gold medallist Amy Williams' helmet, though their plea fell on deaf ears.

"I'm really pleased, a good start to my first Olympic season," said Yarnold.

"It feels like it has been a long preparation and I am so grateful to our support team who have got us here in this shape.  I do have high expectations of myself and I'm glad I put down two good runs."

Great Britain's Dominic Parsons - second in the recent team selection trials in Altenberg - secured the best ever performance of his career with a bronze in the men's race.

Parsons, whose previous best World Cup performance was seventh, becomes the first British man to win a medal at this level since Kristan Bromley in December 2010.

Latvia's Martins Dukurs claimed gold ahead of Russian silver medallist Alexander Tretiakov. Former world champion Bromley finished 15th but British team-mate Ed Smith failed to make the second run after ranking 27th and last on the opening run.

"I'm very happy with my result - particularly because I was able to pick up this new track so quickly," said Parsons.

"We have a long season to go but it's a great start and I'm looking forward to racing again next week."

Meanwhile, Americans Steven Holcomb and Steven Langton won the opening two man bobsleigh World Cup of the season.

They held off Swiss rivals Beat Hefti and Alex Baumann while Canadian home sliders Chris Spring and Jesse Lumsden ranked third.

British driver John Jackson, ranked sixth in the world in four man last season, narrowly missed a second run opportunity after finishing 21st with Bruce Tasker.

Jackson's season looked threatened by an Achilles injury but he has defied doctors' predictions with his comeback.

"The fact that he is on the start line shows the remarkable progress made, we will now work to get him 100 percent for Sochi," said British performance director Gary Anderson.

"It's about qualifying for the games now, that is all."

© Sportsbeat 2013