Fourcade has the only gold medals won by the French Olympic contingent and his victory came on another disappointing day for Norway's Ole Einar Bjorndalen.
Bjorndalen came into the race still tied with retired cross-country superstar Bjorn Daehlie of Norway for the most medals ever won during a Winter Olympics career. They both have 12 and Bjorndalen barely missed out on a 13th during the biathlon pursuit race earlier in these Games.
The best biathlete in history had medaled in this event at each of the last three Olympics, winning a gold in Salt Lake City and a silver in both Turin and Vancouver.
On this occasion, however, poor shooting doomed his efforts. He missed a target at each of the four shooting stops along the 20 kilometers and he finished a weary 34th.
There are three biathlon events left in which Bjorndalen could set the record -- the 15-kilometer mass start race, the men's relay and another relay that will be making its Olympic debut in which men and women will compete on the same team.
Fourcade missed only one of the 20 targets Thursday and finished with a time 12.2 seconds faster than Germany's Erik Lessler.
Lessler had a clean shooting performance in the race, but was unable to match Fourcade's skiing skills. The bronze medal went to Evgeniy Garanichev.