OSTERSUND, Sweden (AP) -- Two-time overall World Cup champion Martin Fourcade of France shot flawlessly to win a men's 20-kilometer individual race at the first biathlon World Cup meet of the season, silencing critics who had doubted his form ahead of the Sochi Olympics.
Fourcade took the lead immediately after the first round of shooting Thursday and stayed in front throughout to finish the race in 50 minutes and 10.9 seconds. Austrians Simon Eder and Daniel Mesotitsch missed one target each to finish second and third respectively, both more than 2 minutes behind.
''I'm really proud and really happy to win again in Ostersund,'' said Fourcade, who had been criticized after a poor performance in a mixed relay on Sunday.
''It's really important,'' he said. ''I needed to ... feel that I'm strong again.''
On the women's side, Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic outraced Olympic gold medalist Anastasiya Kuzmina of Slovakia on the finishing stretch to win the 15-kilometer race.
Soukalova missed two targets to finish the race in 47 minutes, 56 seconds. Kuzmina, who was in the lead after the fourth shooting range, also missed two targets overall but crossed 1.2 seconds behind Soukalova.
Olympic bronze medalist Marie-Laure Brunet of France was in the lead after the third shooting range, but missed a target in the fourth and ended third, 16.2 seconds back.
Favorite Tora Berger of Norway struggled, missing five targets to finish in 23rd place.