Tiril Eckhoff picked up right where she left off before Christmas with an impressive victory in the 7.5km sprint in Oberhof - the first biathlon World Cup race of 2021.

Having claimed victory in two of the final three races of 2020, including the most recent sprint event, Eckhoff enjoyed something of a romp in the new year's maiden contest - shooting clean and crossing the line in 23:54.0 in Germany.

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"It is nice to win," said Eckhoff. "I am happy. It was really tough, especially when I was out really early and there was a lot of snow.

"It got better and better with the conditions. It was a fight out there. What can I say - Oberhof is hard anyway."

That was 29.6 seconds clear of Hanna Oeberg in silver, while Austria's Lisa Theresa Hauser notched the first individual podium finish of her career by pipping Julia Simon to the bronze medal with just one shooting penalty to the French biathlete's two.

And Hauser was in disbelief at achieving her goal of climbing the podium for the first time.

"It is just amazing," beamed Hauser. "I am a little speechless. My legs are still shaking because I am really nervous.

"I did not expect my first podium to be in a sprint. I thought maybe in a pursuit or mass start with four stages but not it happened in a sprint with one mistake. I am really surprised and happy about that."

Eckhoff's compatriot Marte Olsbu Roeiseland could only finish fifth in Oberhof but retains the yellow bib as overall World Cup leader after ten races, on 455 points – 23 clear of Oeberg and 49 ahead of Eckhoff.

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