Nadezhda Skardino of Belarus was a surprise winner of the opening individual event of the season as she claimed her first International Biathlon Union World Cup in Östersund.
Skardino shot clean on her way to her maiden triumph at this level as she took the gold medal in the women's 15 kilometres event.
The Belarusian athlete clocked a time of 40min 6.7sec, 2.9 seconds quicker than silver medallist Synnøve Solemdal of Norway.
Ukraine’s Juliya Dzhyma earned the bronze medal as she crossed the line 11.4 seconds behind the victorious Skardino.
The athletes were greeted with bitter temperatures and a lack of wind as they took to the start line for the opening individual race of the campaign.
French athlete Marie Dorin Habert and Dorothea Wierer of Germany were both expected to challenge for gold but endured disastrous starts to the event, racking up two prone penalties apiece to fall out of contention.
Finland’s Mari Laukkanen and Sweden's Mona Brorsson battled for the lead with less than half of the field on the tracks and they were both clean through the first three stages.
But fatigue began to set in for both biathletes, allowing the chasing pack, which included Skardino, to seize control of the race.
Skardino continued her clean shooting and moved ahead of Brorsson, while Dzhyma was among the other athletes in with a shout of victory.
The final standing stage proved to be a shootout for the podium places as Paulína Fialková of Slovakia picked up a one-minute penalty but took a 1.8 second lead heading towards the finish.
The Ukrainian the came to the range and quickly cleaned to wrestle the advantage from the Slovakian before Skardino came to the fore, surging through the field to secure a shock win in style.
The World Cup in Östersund continues tomorrow with the men's 20km event.