Before the Winter Olympics, many were wondering: what is biathlon? This is a sports competition that combines skiing and target shooting. This sport combines two types of competitions at once. According to the IOC (International Olympic Committee), the name is of Greek origin and actually means “two trials”.
There are also triathlon and decathlon, which include 3 and 10 competitions, respectively. In its modern form, biathlon combines cross-country skiing with rifle shooting. This combination of competitions makes biathlon quite a complex sport. Read this article until the end to learn about all the features of the eccentric sports combination known as biathlon.
What is biathlon?
As mentioned above, biathlon combines two completely different types of sports – cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. Participants can be both men and women. There are five competition formats, differing in distance and features of shooting (in a standing or prone position). The 2022 Winter Olympics will also host a mixed team relay. In general, 11 biathlon competitions will be held.
Biathlon requires an athlete to have two skills: endurance to participate in grueling cross-country skiing and accuracy to hit targets. Competitors must be able to keep a balance in order to quickly switch between the two disciplines. To hit the target, the athlete must stabilize his body and breath after long ski races. While driving over rough terrain, the pulse can reach 180 beats / min. The optimal value for accurate shooting is 140 bpm.
How is the winner in biathlon determine?
Biathlon is a timed sports competition in which the one who finishes first wins. Athletes-biathletes participate in a cross-country skiing race with a rifle behind their backs. Competitions are held on a closed highway. Women’s biathlon is held in 5 different distances, including 7.5 km sprint, 10 km pursuit, 15 km individual, 12.5 km mass start and 24 km relay.
During the cross-country race, athletes stop in specially designated places to conduct aimed shooting at established targets in a standing or prone position. The number of such areas for firing depends on the length of each site. For example, in a 7.5 km sprint, participants shoot twice, and in a race, four times.
Unlike ordinary cross-country skiing, the success of a biathlete depends not only on his speed. Shooting accuracy also plays an important role. Depending on the type of competition, the athlete has a certain number of cartridges. In case of a miss, they must pass a 150 m penalty loop.
Alternatively, they add 1 minute to the total score. The winner is the one who successfully completed all the tasks in the shortest period of time.
Since when is biathlon considered an Olympic sport?
The debut of biathlon as an Olympic sport took place in 1960. Then the games, in which only male athletes participated, were held in Squaw Valley (California). Women’s biathlon was included in the program of the Olympic Games in 1992.
From year to year, additional competitions were added at different distances and with different shooting options. To date, there are 11 types of biathlon, which are included in the program of the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.
Before entering the Olympics, biathlon was known as a patrol race that combined cross-country skiing, ski mountaineering (alpine skiing) and rifle shooting. Military patrol competitions were held at the 1924 Olympics.
However, at the 1928, 1936 and 1948 Olympics, the patrol race was used solely for demonstration purposes and to promote the overall event.