By Nick Butler

Great Britain's Lizzy Yarnold was awarded a controversial gold medal ©Getty ImagesNovember 29 - Britain's Lizzy Yarnold won the women's title at the season opening skeleton World Cup in Calgary, but only after her American rival Noelle Pikus-Pace was disqualified for having an incorrect sled.

Yarnold led after the first of two runs but Pikus-Pace was quicker on the final run and crossed the finish line 0.16 seconds quicker than the Briton overall in 1min 54.88sec.

However, a successful protest was filed by the British team over a piece of tape wrapped around the handle of Pikus-Pace's sled - despite the fact that the tape, which could aid an athlete's grip on the sled, had been cleared earlier in the week by international sliding officials.

Pikus-Pace voiced her frustration on social media, where she described how she was "so sad and disappointed that thousands of hours of training come down to a protest and decision for three pieces of non-performance-enhancing tape."

"I would have obviously removed it if they had told me in my sled inspection," she said. 

Noelle Pikus-Pace voices her frustration with her disqualification in Calgary via social mediaNoelle Pikus-Pace voices her frustration with her disqualification in Calgary via social media in the first of a series of messages ©Twitter

In contrast, Yarnold was unsurprisingly delighted with the outcome as she builds towards competing at her debut Olympics in Sochi. 

"I'm really pleased and its a good start to my first Olympic season", she said afterwards.

"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."

Russian Elena Nikitina was promoted to second following the disqualification while Australia's Michelle Steele took bronze to duly secure her World Cup first podium since 2007.

Yarnold's teammate in the reigning world champion Shelly Rudman finished in fourth place.

In the men's event Latvia's Martins Dukurs continued his recent domination with another comfortable victory to begin his Olympic campaign.

Martin Dukurs on the way to yet another World Cup title as he began the Olympic season in perfect style ©Getty ImagesMartin Dukurs on the way to yet another World Cup title as he seeks a firth consecutive World Cup series title ©Getty Images

Since taking a silver medal at Vancouver 2010 the Latvian has taken four World Cup titles along with victories at the 2011 and 2012 World Championships and a silver in 2013.

On this occasion he finished ahead of the 2010 world champion Alexander Tretyakov of Russia, when setting a new track record, while Dominic Parsons of Britain took a surprise bronze.

In what completed a superb week's work for the British, Parsons took his first ever World Cup podium position as well as the first for a British athlete since 2008 world champion Kristan Bromley did so at Lake Placid in 2010.