Lizzy Yarnold settled for silver while British team-mate Dominic Parsons took a shock bronze in the opening skeleton World Cup race in Calgary.
Former world bronze medallist Yarnold, who won the last of her two World Cup golds in Canada, was leading the standings after the first run.
But a storming second run from American Noelle Pikus-Pace, who was an injury doubt for the season opener just a few days ago, secured gold.
Russian Elena Nikitina completed the podium while British world champion Shelley Rudman was fifth and team-mate Donna Creighton ranked a disappointing 19th.
"It's not too bad a start to the season, I'm pretty pleased but Noelle was exceptional," said Yarnold, who lost critical time on the intermediate sections of her second run to miss gold by just 0.16 seconds.
Great Britain's 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.
© Sportsbeat 2013