Norwegian Tora Berger held her nerve after delivering a superb shooting performance to win her first Olympic gold medal in the women's 15km individual event at Whistler Olympic Park on Thursday.

Two days after finishing fifth in the 10km pursuit, the 28-year-old student missed just one target on a glorious day of sunshine in the Whistler mountains before completing the course in 40 minutes 52.8 seconds.

Berger, who was flawless through the first three rounds of shooting, raised her right arm in celebration as she crossed the finish line before collapsing to the ground with fatigue.

This is a dream I've had for so long, an elated Berger told reporters after earning Norway its 100th Winter Olympics gold medal in front of a packed stadium. This is so good.

I was nervous in the last shooting and it really hurt because I missed.

Kazakhstan's Elena Khrustaleva, 20.7 seconds behind, took silver while Darya Domracheva of Belarus had to settle for the bronze.

I was shooting well and skiing well, the 29-year-old Khrustaleva said after clinching her first Olympic podium finish. The last lap was very hard. But I was patient and I did it. I just run, run and run.

Six-times world champion Magdalena Neuner of Germany, who won Tuesday's 10km pursuit and was bidding for her third medal of the Games, missed three targets on the way to 10th place.

Berger, whose best previous Olympic finish was fifth in the 4x6km relay at the 2006 Turin Games, was the second athlete to start and she took control after shooting clean in the opening rounds of prone and standing.

Although she missed one target in the final round of standing shooting, she had built a big enough lead to seal the gold medal as Norwegian flags waved around the finish line and loud cheers rang out from her supporters.

Swede Anna Carin Olofsson-Zidek, who was fourth in the 10km pursuit, came home in 17th while her compatriot Helena Jonsson, the World Cup leader, missed four targets to wind up a disappointing 49th.