Dorothea Wierer mounted a stirring fightback to bounce back from early shooting errors and claim her first World Cup victory of the season on home snow in Antholz-Anterselva.
Wierer sat 14th after two prone penalties but was flawless on her next two rounds with the rifle which, combined with a blistering last lap on the skis, was enough to see her finish clear of Dzinara Alimbekava and Anais Chevalier-Bouchet in the 12.5km mass start.
The Italian flew out the traps in her final lap and built up enough of an advantage to hold on as fatigue hit in the final 300m, Wierer coming home in 35:58.7 with Alimbekava, who had one shooting penalty, 3.7 seconds further back.
International Biathlon Union suspends Russia and Belarus with immediate effect
Wierer had not won a World Cup event since November 2020 but is now returning to form at an opportune time ahead of the Olympic Winter Games. The same cannot be said for world champion Lisa Hauser, who finished 29th ahead of only Lisa Vinnozzi, who paid the price for nine misses.
"It was amazing," Wierer said after her victory. "I woke up today and was so tired.
"Finally, I think it was good shooting and finally, I also felt really good on the track. But my head was saying to me, 'I can't anymore.'
"I just heard my coach tell me that I had to push because I can do it today. I am really happy for that."
Earlier in the day, Norway's men laid down an Olympic marker of their own with a dominant display in the 4x7.5km relay.
Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen began the last leg with an advantage of over a minute following fine work by teammates Johannes Thingnes Boe, Tarjei Boe and Sturla Holm Laegreid and anchored his country to victory in stye.
Christiansen stretched the advantage to nearly two minutes by the conclusion, with Russia in second and Germany third, leaving the Norwegian purring over a display he ranks as up there with the best of his career.
"It is a great performance from all the guys," he said. "It is one of our best relays at least in my career.
"Almost winning by two minutes is almost like a dream, especially in the last relay before the Olympics.
"It gives us a lot of self-confidence before the Olympics and we are very happy to win here."
Braisaz-Bouchet and Bakken take victory in mass start finales to win crystal globes
Highlights: Laegreid and Eckhoff claim sprint success as Maillet secures World Cup
Share this article