Photo Credit: nationalguard.mil
This high-octane activity is a winter sport that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. Yes, you heard that right. There actually is a sport out there that combines world class racing speeds with high intensity sharp shooting. You might think that this is a niche sport enjoyed by a select group of extreme enthusiasts. Biathlon, however, is an Olympic sport with millions of fans worldwide.
The lore behind Biathlon is as intriguing as the sport itself. Apparently Biathlon is based in Scandinavian winter tradition. The Norse God, Ullr, was both the ski god as well as the hunting god. Competitors in Biathlon pay homage to Ullr by becoming gods in both sports themselves.
Biathlon was finally inducted into the Olympic Winter Games in 1960, however there wasn’t a women’s division until the Albertville Olympics in 1992. Over the years more and more Biathlon events have been added to the Winter Olympic docket. For 2018 there will be a staggering 12 separate events. These events are separated by the gender of competitors as well as by the distances traveled in the ski portion of the race. The distance varies from 10 to 20 kilometers and different events require different things from shooters.
30 of the World Cup’s best Biathlon competitors will head to Pyeongchang, South Korea to compete in the 2018 Olympic games. The world has been following several of the most renowned ski shooters from past games.
- Nor Bjoerndalen of Norway is a world class speed skier and rifle shooter. He has been competing in the Olympic Biathlon events continuously since 1994 and has brought home Olympic medal glory to his country from every single Olympics since 1998.
- From the women’s side of the events, all eyes are on the acclaimed, ‘Biathlon Queen’, Laura Dahlmeier. Laura, who hails from the Alpine region of Germany, has wowed audiences for years with her ability to shoot incredibly accurately even after having beat world class skiers in a race immediately beforehand. Dahlmeier’s stamina is inspiring and easily attributed to the fact that she has singly devoted herself to this particular sport from the young age of only nine years old. The world will be watching her performance in 2018’s games.
Olympians are excited to be back at the South Korean resort course at the Alpensia Biathlon Center for the Pyeongchang Olympic games. Competitors found themselves on this same course in 2009 for the International Biathlon Championships.
Last year, France’s Olympic Biathlon competitor, Martin Fourcade, was quoted as saying, “It’s a great track and a lot of fun, but you have to be in really good shape for it”. This renowned French competitor goes on to explain the intricacies of the three concentric loops that make up the full Biathlon course and all of the minute intricacies that only a true master of the craft would pick up on. All things considered, he says, "Next year’s games are going to be a great spectacle”.
One thing is for certain, whether you’re a long time lover of Biathlon or are hearing about this bizarre mashup for the first time, Pyeongchang’s games are the perfect opportunity to get excited about Biathlon. Apparently this year’s events will be an amazing display of speed skiing and sharp shooting and will be quite the whirlwind introduction to the sport for those with an interest in learning about it.