Norway pulled away in the last two legs of the mixed relay to claim the first gold medal of the IBU World Championships in Östersund in Sweden today ©IBU

Norway pulled away in the last two legs of the mixed relay to claim the first gold medal of the International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Championships in Östersund in Sweden today.

The team of Marte Olsbu Røiseland, Tiril Eckhoff, Johannes Thingnes Bø and Vetle Sjastad Christiansen triumphed in a time of 1 hour 17min 41.4sec with seven spares.

Germany's Vanessa Hinz, Denise Herrmann, Arnd Peiffer and Benedikt Doll finished second, 13.1 seconds back with nine spares, while Italy's Lisa Vittozzi, Dorothea Wierer, Lukas Hofer and Dominik Windisch came third, 1:09.6 behind with 14 spares.

Bø considers Norway's record fourth win in the mixed relay event as a confidence builder for the team.

"It is my first mixed relay victory in the [IBU World] Championships, so of course it is a big day," he said.

"It is good for the team and good for us we are the four strongest.

"We have big chances in the individual races, so getting this gold medal only gives us more confidence."

Norway came into the race as favourites after Germany's Laura Dahlmeier, who was part of the team that won the gold medal in Austrian town Hochfilzen in 2017, withdrew in the morning due to illness.

Røiseland and Eckhoff put a strong foundation in place, fighting off the pressure from Herrmann, the replacement for Dahlmeier, and Vittozzi, who did not miss a shot and skied superbly.

But it was Christiansen who had the honour of sealing victory having taken on the second men's 7.5-kilometres leg after Bø.

"I was really nervous before the race and just tried to block everything out, so honestly I do not remember so much - I just go with the flow," he said. 

Both Vittozzi and Wierer put Italy into a strong position but Hofer and Windisch were unable to maintain the pace and allowed Germany to slip away for the silver medal. 

Nevertheless, the third-place finish secured the country's first medal in the event.

Action in Östersund is due to continue tomorrow with the women's 7.5km sprint event.