Tiril Eckhoff hailed a 'perfect' performance after banishing her early season Biathlon World Cup demons and soaring to victory in the 10km pursuit in Kontiolahti.

The Norwegian had only mustered 67th, 43rd and 8th place finishes in the opening three events of the campaign but delivered a searing performance to dash Hanna Oberg's hopes of a third win in a row.

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Oberg finished third in Finland and while Eckhoff's compatriot Marte Olsbu Roiseland was second, it was the 30-year-old who stole the show with a time of 31:05.9.

Sweden's Oberg still leads the overall standings but Eckhoff is now in hot pursuit after finally putting her post-lockdown blues to one side.

"It was a perfect race," she said.

"I am very happy because I have struggled a lot here; struggled to have the motivation. To win like this, gives me more joy.

"I had a really troubling start because it is special to do biathlon in a pandemic. I do not really feel the joy, but people at home helped me get my motivation back.

"I need to say thanks to them because they helped me find that motivation."

Belarus' Dzinara Alimbekava achieved her personal World Cup best to finish fourth, while Johanna Skottheim was fifth and Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold was sixth.

Oberg, who reigned supreme in the previous two 7.5km sprint events in Kontiolahti, was gunning for a Finnish hat-trick but a brilliant display by Eckhoff kickstarted her season in style.

The five-time Winter Olympic medallist held a 23.8s lead over Oberg and Olsbu Roeiseland with 2km to go and while the latter's strong finish usurped the World Cup leader in second, it was not enough to overhaul Eckhoff.

Olsbu Roeiseland said: "I was really motivated before the start. I think my shape in the track was good today.

"I had to do as much as I could out there as I could. It was a good fight."

Oberg, 25, still leads the overall World Cup standings and will be eager to regain her hegemony when the field descend on Hochfilzen, Austria, for the 7.5km sprint event on Friday.

The Swede lies 36 points clear of Olsbu Roeiseland at the summit of the table, while Skottheim is third and Eckhoff is now 110 points adrift of the overall leader in 13th.

Oberg has triumphed in the season's first two sprint events and hopes five days of recovery can propel her back to victory on the Austrian slopes.

"I was very tired today," she said.

"These have been some intense days here and I think it got to my head; I was mostly a bit tired in my head.

"I knew that today would be a lot about the shooting. That was my main focus. My legs did not feel so good but I do not think any of the girls felt that good.

"I am looking forward to a couple of days of rest."

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