Martin Fourcade of France earned his fourth gold medal at the biathlon world championships in the 20-kilometre individual race on Thursday.

It was his third consecutive world 20K title, which he also won at the Sochi Olympic Games two years ago.

Fourcade, with a one-minute penalty, won by 5.1 seconds from Dominik Landertinger of Austria, who shot cleanly. Another Austrian, Simon Eder, also with a clean sheet, was 14.4 seconds back in third.

Fourcade missed his last target at the second standing station, and the mistake added instant interest to the competition. But his pace on the track proved the difference.

After the second and third shooting stations, Fourcade was more than 30 seconds down on leader Johannes Thingnes Bo, but the Norwegian very narrowly missed his first shot on the last station and had a minute added to his time. Fourcade suddenly trailed the leading Landertinger by only 0.3 seconds and slowly powered ahead over the last kilometres at the Holmenkollen Ski Centre.

He added the win to golds from the mixed relay a week ago, the sprint on Saturday, and the pursuit on Sunday. He still has the relay and mass start this weekend.

"I had to push myself very hard to win this," he said. "Landertinger was strong on the skis on the last lap.

"This seems unreal. I started these championships aiming for one gold. But I have concentrated on every event. Six gold medals possible? One at a time."

Fourcade showed his control after the only miss, hitting all 11 remaining targets to avoid another penalty, knowing he could make up time on the last four-kilometre skiing lap.

Bo's penalty-inducing missed shot on the last station hit the rim of the target. He looked at the shot afterwards.

"Was I really that close to becoming a world champion on my home course?" Bo pondered after losing to Fourcade by 57 seconds. He finished fourth for the third time in a week.

Eder was rapt to win his first individual medal at a worlds. He has a few from relays.

After the last shooting station, Eder led the race. A rapid shooter but not the fastest skier, he was easy prey for Fourcade, and couldn't hold off Landertinger.

"I went out 6.4 seconds ahead of Landertinger after my shooting but it was not enough," Eder said.

Scott Gow had the best result for Canada with an 18th-place finish. 

With files from CBC Sports