Noelle Pikus-Pace won the gold medal Friday to claim the world championship title for the women's U.S. skeleton team.
The American, who missed last year's Turin Olympics after shattering her right leg in a training accident, was the fastest in all four heats, winning in a combined time of 4 minutes, 44.13 seconds.
Her winning margin of 1.56 seconds was the largest in women's skeleton world championship history.
Olympic champion Maya Pedersen of Switzerland took silver in 4:45.69. World Cup leader Katie Uhlaender of the United States, who won four of the first five races this year, was third in 4:45.85.
"When I came around the finish my eyes filled with tears because of the journey it took me to get here, both mentally and physically," Pikus-Pace said on the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation Web site.
"Fifteen months ago I broke my leg and then I missed the Olympics. It's been a long journey back, and now I won world championships. Words can't express how I feel."
Pikus-Pace, the 2005 World Cup champion, is second in the World Cup standings despite not winning a race. This is her first full season since her right leg was shattered when hit by a runaway bobsled while training in Calgary in October 2005.
Tania Morel of Switzerland was fourth, 2.32 seconds behind. Canada's Carla Paven was fifth in 4.47.03. Michelle Steele of Australia was sixth in 4.47.09.
In the men's event, two-time Olympic bronze medalist Gregor Staehli led by 0.62 seconds after the first two heats. American entrants Eric Bernotas and Zach Lund were second and third.
The final two skeleton heats and the first two heats of the men's bobsled competition are on Saturday.