An Olympic sport since Squaw
Valley 1960, the Biathlon event stems from a way of life; hunting for food in winter
and a military need to defend land borders in snowy conditions.
The Biathlon, Biathlon
Links, 4 x 7.5km Relay, Individual, Olympic Greats, Pursuit, Sprint.
Biathlon as a sport is a test of cross-country skiing and
Within the Olympic discipline, the biathlon now has ten events.
15km mass start
4 x 7.5km relay
12.5km mass start
4 x 6km relay
The sprint is a prologue to the pursuit; the men covering 10km (3
laps of a 3.3 km loop) and the women 7.5km (3 laps of a 2.5 km loop).
During the cross-country ski, with a rifle strapped to their back, all
competitors stop twice and have to hit all five targets with five bullets; enduring a ski
around the 150m penalty loop for each target missed.
The first 60 to reach the sprint finsh qualify for the pursuit.
The pursuit is 2.5km longer (for men and women), with the start
staggered depending on qualifying times achieved in the sprint.
In the pursuit, athletes have to stop four times and again hit all
five targets with five bullets or endure the 150m penalty loop for each target
The individual event (15km for women and 20km for men) includes
four stops at the shooting targets.
This time, if any of the five targets are missed a minute is added to
the total time.
Four team members each cover 7.5km in turn (6km for women).
Each member has two firing sequences but is allowed three extra
bullets to hit the five targets; although the extra bullets need to be loaded one by one.
There's also the dreaded ski around the 150m penalty loop, for each
target still standing.
Germany's Frank-Peter Roetsch became the first biathlete to win
two gold medals in one year at the Calgary 1988 Winter
After making his first appearance in Sarajevo
1984, where he earned a silver medal in the 20km race, Roetsch won the gold medal in
the same event in Canada; despite missing three targets. Three days later the German
finished first in the 10km race; even though he missed a target again and was forced to
ski the 150m penalty loop.
With two gold, four silver and three bronze Ursula Disl has won
more medals than any other women in the Olympic biathlon.
In Albertville 1992 and Lillehammer 1994 Disl skied for the German team that
finished second in the relay. She also collected an individual 15km bronze medal in
Norway. Over to Canada for the Calgary 1988 Winter
Olympics and Ursula Disl collected another bronze in the 15km individual event and a
silver at 7.5km; six days later. It was the relay that would bring Disl her first gold
medal; after a somewhat hindered start, when she dropped a ski pole.
At the age of 31, in Salt Lake
City 2002, Disl failed to win a third medal in the 15km but made up for it by
collecting silver in the 7.5km and another team gold in the relay.
Norway's Ole Einar Bjoerndalen went one better in Turin 2006 (with silver in the 20km and 12.5km pursuit, and
bronze in the 15km mass start), to take his total medal haul to nine; having won gold in
all four biathlon events in Salt Lake City 2002
and two medals in Nagano 1998.
Aleksandr Tikhonov, the Russian relay specialist, is the only winter
athlete to win the same event four times; in Grenoble 1968,
Sapporo 1972, Innsbruck
1976 and Lake Placid 1980.
International Biathlon Union:
The IBU is based in Austria although the president is Norwegian.
Blue and red links depicting pages in english or french.
US Biathlon Association:
Latest news and press releases concening the US Biathlon scene.
General Biathlon Links
Allen's Biathlon Page:
A good place to go for more information on the sport. Includes a collection of tips and
techniques and links to further biathlon resources.
Large archive of past and present Biathlon athletes, listed by NOC.
The place for readers of German to find out more about biathlon.
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