The Rio 2016 Olympian was seventh going into the decisive laser run-shoot but surged through the field to finish runner-up to Germany’s Lena Schoneborn, pulling away from third-placed Ekaterina Khuraskina of Russia in the final 50m.
“I’m really happy to start my season with a medal,” said French, who has moved up to ninth in the world rankings.
“I was particularly pleased with my fencing which put me in a good position to challenge and although I was a little disappointed with my ride I managed to shoot well and move up the field in the laser run.
“The last lap – when there were three of us going for two medals – was really exciting and I’m so happy that I managed to get the silver medal.
“These are always hard events with strong fields, so to finish on the podium and get my best-ever World Cup result is a great feeling.”
Pentathlon GB, whose national training centre is at the University of Bath, qualified all four women for the final. Natural Sciences student Jess Varley, supported by the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS), was a fine 18th on her World Cup debut, former World Champion Samantha Murray was 22nd and Francesca Summers was 36th.
Myles Pillage missed out on a place in the final but teamed up with fellow debutant Varley to finish a fantastic fourth in the mixed relay on Sunday.
Pentathlon GB Performance Director Jan Bartu, a University of Bath Hall of Fame for Sport inductee, said: “It was an extremely well deserved medal for Kate and I hope this serves as encouragement to our entire pathway programme as we start the route to Tokyo. We can now head back in positive spirits with lots to look forward to and encouragement for the season ahead.”
For full reports from Los Angeles, visit www.pentathlongb.org. The next World Cup takes place in Cairo, Egypt, from March 22-26.