The greatness of Biathlon

Biathlon! The great winter pastime of cross-country skiing … mixed with target shooting? Yeah, in concept, it doesn’t make a whole deal of sense. But in practice, oh man, step back, because it is action packed. Three laps, with shooting stops on the first and third laps, means that the competitors cant get too comfortable. On the first and third laps, they have to hit five individual targets, standing up on the first lap and the third in a prone position, or laying on the ground.

First introduced to the Winter Olympics in 1960 with only one event, the mens 20-kilometer sprint. Modern day Olympics have 11 events, five for men and five for women with one mixed event.

Many of the Scandinavian countries are the heavy favorites going into this event every Olympics, with Norway having a stronghold on the men’s front. As of writing this, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway had won the mens 10-kilometer event, beating out Domink Landertinger of Austria by only 1.3 seconds.

On the women’s front, it was Anastasiya Kuzmina of Slovakia who won the 7.5-kilometer sprint, with Olga Vilukhina of Russia winning silver and Vita Semerenko from Ukraine winning bronze. In the women’s 10-kilometer pursuit, Darya Domracheva of Belarus won gold. Martin Fourcade of France won the men’s pursuit with a time of 33:48.6, taking only one penalty and beating his competitors by 14.1 seconds. A penalty, by the way, ccurs when a competitor misses one of the targets they are shooting at. They ski around a 150-meter loop for every target that they miss.

Germany leads the all-time medal count for biathlon at 43, with Norway at 29 and the USSR at 25 – I feel like they’ll remain at 25. Hopefully the coming weeks are as exciting for biathlon as they are for the rest of the sports. Wait, who am I kidding, of course they’re going to be exciting; it’s skiing and shooting. That’s a formula for success.