Tina Hermann held on to her opening-day lead to win the women's skeleton world title on Saturday in Igls, Austria, for Germany's first gold medal in five years.

Overall World Cup leader Hermann won three of the four heats to beat European champion Janine Flock of Austria by 0.46 seconds.

Elena Nikitina of Russia, who won the junior world title here three years ago, was the fastest starter in all heats and finished 0.59 behind Hermann to take bronze.

Canada's Elisabeth Vathje was 0.98 seconds back, finishing sixth. Jane Channell, of North Vancouver, B.C.,finished 13th overall.

"It's incredible. When I came out of the [turn] nine, I knew that I'd won it," said Hermann, who led Flock by 0.27 going into the final heat. "I was so excited that I started to make a few mistakes but I knew nothing could happen to me anymore."

German teammate Sophia Griebel was the fastest in the only heat Hermann didn't win, and finished 1.05 off the lead in seventh.

The 23-year-old Hermann, who won the junior world title in 2010, is having a breakthrough season on senior level. She won four of seven World Cup races and was runner-up to Flock for the European title two weeks ago. This time, however, she led the Austrian from the opening heat.

Winning her second medal at a major championship, Hermann became the first skeleton world champion from Germany since Marion Thees won gold in Koenigssee in 2011.

Last Sunday, Hermann set a track record here to help Germany win gold in the combined bobsled and skeleton team event.

"I just can't describe it. It's a dream," said Hermann.

Lizzy Yarnold won the world title in Winterberg, Germany, last year. The Olympic champion from Britain has taken a year off from the sport.