Martin Fourcade out-skied Simon Schempp from the last shooting station for France to beat Germany in the mixed relay as the biathlon world championships began at the Holmenkollen Arena in Norway on Thursday.

Fourcade, the World Cup leader, led the team of Anais Bescond, Marie Dorin Habert, and Quentin Fllol Maillet to victory in the 27-kilometer race — 12 for the women, and 15 for the men.

France, after finishing runner-up in the last two world championships, beat Germany by 4.3 seconds.

Beside Schempp on the German team were Franceska Preuss, Franziska Hildebrand, and Arnd Pfeiffer.

At first, Schempp was able to follow Fourcade easily as his skis were gliding better, but towards the end, on the last uphill, Fourcade's strength showed.

"I was relieved, it was tough," Fourcade said. "I knew the Germans had faster skis, so I had to hold a high tempo."

Tarjei Bo compensated for losing time with spare shells in the prone shooting by going clean in the standing and lifting Norway past Ukraine onto the podium, 14.4 seconds off the pace. Rookie Marte Olsbu, Tiril Eckhoff, and Johannes Thingnes Boe were the others on the team.

The Canadian team of Julia Ransom, Rosanna Crawford, Nathan Smith and Brendan Green finished 11th.

Norway's Eckhoff, a member of the 2014 Olympic gold medal team, was the fastest skier on the second leg and lifted the team to first place after it trailed more than 14 seconds after the second shooting station.

On the third leg, France's Fillol Maillet set an excellent foundation for Fourcade by being the fastest on skis to hand over a joint lead with Ukraine. Fillol Maillet's was 20.4 seconds behind, and down in fourth, after his prone shooting.

All the top teams avoided skiing penalties, but Norway lost time as the team had to use no less than 10 reserve shells. Partly for that reason, Bo couldn't race for the outright win.

The next events are the men's and women's sprints on Saturday at 5:15 a.m. ET and 8:15 a.m. ET, respectively. Watch them live on CBCSports.ca

With files from CBC Sports