Koukalová stuns Dahlmeier to win sprint gold at Biathlon World Championships

Koukalová stuns Dahlmeier to win sprint gold at Biathlon World Championships

Gabriela Koukalova of the Czech Republic won gold in the Women's Sprint at the 2017 Biathlon World Championships

Tom Hiscott

Gabriela Koukalová produced a stunning performance to claim gold in the Women's Sprint at the Biathlon World Championships in Hochfilzen, Austria

With bib number 96 out of 101, Koukalová was among the final starters, and the conditions really suited the Czech athlete as she shot clear to pip overwhelming favourite Laura Dahlmeier to gold by four seconds. 

Germany's Dahlmeier looked to have wrapped up gold following an excellent time of 19.16.6 minutes, yet Koukalová completed the 7.5km course just a little faster to pull off the golden heist. 

Early starters stutter at the range before eventual bronze winner Chevalier goes clear 

Unlike the World Cup sprint's, not all of the pre-race favourites were among the early starters in Hochfilzen and were spread among the 101 racers which kept the race alive from start to finish.

France's Marie Dorin Habert was first out of the gate, yet she set the precedent for many of the big names to start early in fluffing their lines at the range. 

Dorin Habert missed one shot in the prone position to hand herself a tough task from the off, with Finland's Kaisa Makarainen missing twice, and Dorothea Weirer also sending two bullets wide of the mark. 

Among the first group of racers, Irina Uslugina of Russia was the first to hit ten out of the ten, but she wasn't quick enough over the three 2.5km laps and finished 15th.

Instead it was Dorin Habert's French teammate Anais Chevalier who used her perfect performance in both the prone and standing positions to eventually finish in bronze medal position. 

Dahlmeier storms field to set daunting time

Having played a part in Germany's Mixed Relay win on the opening day of competition, Laura Dahlmeier has been the standout women on the tour this year and looks to have brought that form with her to Hochfilzen. 

After a solid if unspectacular start, it was not until she left the range following her second clear round before Dahlmeier started to take control of the race. 

Laura Dahlmeier shot clear on her way to silver (image source: Franck Fife/Staff/Getty Images)

The highest ranked Biathlete in the field will have come into this race believing that if she could hit ten out of ten targets the gold would be her's, however that wasn't the case and she had to make do with silver.

Koukalová produces World Championship-calibre performance to claim maiden individual gold

With the likes of 2016 sprint world champion Tiril Eckhoff and Marte Olsbu as well as Koukalová heading out among the final ten starters, Dahlmeier and the large crowd in attendance would have to keep their eyes on the action until the very end.

Eckhoff and Olsbu each missed on the first shoot ruling them out for a challenge on the podium, yet the 27-year-old Koukalová went clear, and had a 5.4 second lead coming out of the range to keep her hopes alive. 

She managed to utilise the shade which was descending over the course to aid her on the climbs, and when it came to the standing shoot she was perfect and managed to extend her advantage to ten seconds with 2.5km remaining. 

Koukalova in action during her gold medal performance (image source: Stanislav Krasilnikov / Contributor / Getty Images)

Going up against the fastest skier in the race, Koukalová just about had enough time in the bag and fell across the line with a time four seconds better than her German rival. 

This win was the first individual World Championship gold of Koukalová's in the sixth championships of her career, and up there with the most memorable performances seen over recent years in Biathlon. 

The men's sprint takes place on Saturday, with heavy favourite Martin Fourcade piling the pressure on himself following his ignominious fall-out with the Russian team before, during and after Thursday's Mixed Team Relay. 

In more winter sport World Championship action taking place in Eastern Europe, Switzerland's Wendy Holdener thrilled the home crowd, claiming gold in the Women's Combined Event at the Skiing World Championships in St. Moritz