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2010 Winter Olympics: Britain gets first winter gold since '80

WHISTLER, British Columbia — Amy Williams' helmet was bumpy. The ride was anything but.

Williams finished off a surprising run to the women's skeleton gold medal at the Vancouver Games on Friday, giving Britain its first individual Winter Olympics title since figure skater Robin Cousins prevailed at Lake Placid in 1980.

Williams finished four runs at the Whistler Sliding Center in 3 minutes, 35.64 seconds. Germans took silver and bronze, with Kerstin Szymkowiak finishing 0.56 seconds off Williams' pace and Anja Huber coming in third.

"It was the perfect performance," Huber said. "She's the right Olympic champion."

Not everyone agrees.

A person with direct knowledge of the case told The Associated Press that a second protest was filed quickly after the race about the helmet Williams used, adding that it was "more detailed" than the one denied a day earlier by the International Federation of Bobsleigh and Tobogganing.

The FIBT didn't immediately say when it would hear the latest protest.

A bloc of nations, including the United States, argue that Williams' helmet doesn't conform to aerodynamic standards.

"It's pretty much the same as everyone else's helmet," Williams said. "And if people want to try and play mind games, that's fine."

If the protest is upheld, Noelle Pikus-Pace might get a medal after all.

Pikus-Pace, the longtime racer from Eagle Mountain, finished fourth in her final race before retirement, missing bronze by a mere 0.10 seconds.

"I knew I wouldn't be satisfied unless I gave it everything I had," Pikus-Pace said. "And I think I did that."

Perhaps the biggest surprise of all, Mellisa Hollingsworth — Canada's World Cup overall champion and gold-medal favorite — had a disaster-filled bumpy final ride down the track, falling from second to fifth after skidding from one wall to the other.

Hollingsworth managed a smile as she tried to wave a Canadian flag when it was over.

"Heartbreaking," a devastated Hollingsworth said.

Williams had never before won a race against all the world's top women sliders. Until now, her career highlights included a silver medal at last year's world championships and another silver in a World Cup race on this tricky track last season.

Her fast times were the talk of the track. The protests say that a series of tiny ridges — spoilers, they're called — across the top of Williams' helmet gave her an illegal edge, though the FIBT disagreed with the initial protest.

Before her final race, Pikus-Pace wore red, white and blue headphones — gold stars over the earpieces — and took photos from the start deck for her scrapbook.

On the ramp for that last run, though, she was all business.

Looking straight ahead as she snapped her visor into place, U.S. assistant coach Greg Sand clapping his hands behind her and shouting encouragement one final time, Pikus-Pace hopped aboard the sled her husband, Janson, built for this final season.

And 54.07 seconds later, it was over. She came to a stop, stood on the ice and waved goodbye.

The 2007 world champion's career ended without the Olympic medal that she spent a decade chasing.

"Going into that fourth run, I knew I had nothing to lose," she said. "I wanted to lay it all on the line and give everything I had and let my sled slide. I was hoping it would be enough to put me up a bit — and I finished one-tenth from the podium."

The other American in the field, Katie Uhlaender of Breckenridge, Colo., finished 11th in 3:37.93.