Bronze went to Lilia Efremova of Ukraine as just nine seconds separated the top five finishers and the first 15 came home within a minute of the Frenchwoman’s time.
Baverel-Robert, ranked just 23rd in the World Cup sprint standings, completed the three 2.5km circuits of the gruelling Cesana San Sicario race course in 22min 31.4sec, 2.4sec ahead of Olofsson and 6.6sec in front of Efremova.
Olofsson picked up one penalty, which cost her the top spot on the podium – but there was no trace of disappointment after the race.
“It feels great! It’s a big relief,” she said. “I can’t believe it’s true.”
Crucially, the Frenchwoman, who finished fifth in the sprint in the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, produced an exemplary display of marksmanship and accrued no 150-metre penalties for missing any targets.
Olga Pyleva of Russia, the silver medallist in the 15km individual event, did not start the sprint, after testing positive for the stimulant carphedon.
Her non-participation ruled her out of being among the top 60 sprinters to qualify for the 10km pursuit event on Saturday.
Defending Olympic sprint champion Kati Wilhelm of Germany, ranked first in the event this season, improved her shooting from her disastrous showing in the 15km event picking up one penalty but could still only manage a 7th placed finish.
Her compatriot Uschi Disl, who has won eight Olympic and 15 world championship medals, finished down the field in 34th place after picking up three penalties.
Russia’s Svetlana Ishmouratova, gold medallist in the 15km, placed 10th as the podium finishers usurped both the strong German and Russian teams.