Olympic Sports >> Biathlon

Biathlon

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The Competition

Objective

The biathlon combines cross-country skiing and marksmanship. There are 10 biathlon events at the Vancouver Winter Games.

Men

10km sprint, 12.5km pursuit, 15km mass start, 20km individual. 4x7.5km relay.

Women

7.5km sprint, 10km pursuit, 12.5km mass start, 15km individual, 4x6km relay.

Venue

Whistler Olympic Park

Competition dates

Feb. 13, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23 and 26

The Disciplines

The Sprint (10km men, 7.5km women)

Competitors start the race individually at 30 second intervals on a course that features 2 stops at the shooting range (prone then standing). If an athlete misses one of the five targets at 50m from the firing position, he or she must ski round a 150m penalty circuit before moving on. The winner is the competitor with the best overall time.

The Pursuit (12.5km men, 10km women)

Limited to the top 60 finishers in the sprint. The athletes begin the race at staggered intervals, depending on their finish times in the sprint, with the winner of the sprint starting first, and so on. There are four stops at the shooting range (first two prone, second two standing) with the targets at 50m. A penalty lap of 150m is enforced for each missed target. The winner is the first competitor across the line.

Mass Start (15km men, 12.5km women)

30 competitors massed at the start line including the medallists from the sprint, the pursuit and the individual race, plus the top ranked competitors from the World Cup until the quota is reached. 4 stops at the shooting range (first two prone, second two standing) with five shots at 50m targets. A penalty lap of 150m is enforced for each missed target. The winner is the first competitor across the line.

Individual race (20km men, 15km women)

The competitors begin at 30 second intervals on a course that features 4 stops at the shooting range (prone, standing, prone, standing) A one minute penalty is added to final times for each missed target. The winner is the competitor with the best overall time including penalties.

The Relay (4x7.5km men, 4x6km women)

The first competitors from each team begin the race in a mass start. There are 2 stops at the shooting range for each competitor (prone then standing). For each stop the competitors have a pre-loaded clip of five bullets while 3 additional bullets can be loaded manually in case of a missed target. A penalty lap of 150m is enforced for each missed target. The handover is a simple pat on the back at the changeover points. The winning team is the first outfit to get their fourth skier across the finish line.

Important Dates

  • 1767 : A competition involving shooting and skiing is held in Norway.
  • 1912 : First modern race organised by the Norwegian army.
  • 1924 : The military patrol appears as a demonstration sport at the first Winter Games in Chamonix, France.
  • 1948 : The International Modern Pentathlon and Biathlon Union is founded in Sandhurst, England with 17 members.
  • 1958 : First men's biathlon world championships.
  • 1960 : The biathlon becomes an Olympic event at Squaw Valley in the US, but only for men.
  • 1992 : Women compete for the first time at the Olympic Games in Albertville.
  • 1993 : International Biathlon Union founded.
  • 2006 : The mass start events make their Olympic debut at Turin.

Stars

Frank-Peter Rotsch (E. GER)

Silver medallist over 20km at Sarajevo in 1984, he completed a memorable double four years later in Calgary by winning the 10km and 20km. One year earlier the East German also did the double at the world championships. 10km world champion in 1985, he also won the World Cup overall title in 1984, 1985 and 1987.

Magdalena Forsberg (SWE)

Winner of six consecutive World Cup crowns between 1997 and 2002. 11 world championship medals including 6 gold. The best female biathlete ever, she won everything except the Olympic gold, settling for two bronze medals.

Ole-Einar Bjorndalen (NOR)

Made history at the Salt Lake Games in 2002 by winning four gold medals (individual, sprint, pursuit and relay). Added to his sprint title in 1998, he is the most successful Olympic biathlete ever.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.



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