What Exactly is Biathlon?

Apr 22, 2019

Team USA Olympian Hannah Dressigacker illustrated this guide to biathlon in 2014 while she was competing in Sochi, Russia. Although European audiences for Biathlon events set viewership records, the sport is just starting to catch on in the United States, and Hannah's goal was to help her followers better understand the sport. Many of us here at Concept2 have tried biathlon, and have a great appreciation for the challenges it presents—not only do you need to be fit and fast, you also need to be able to bring focus and control to the mental challenge of target work when you are tired and breathing hard. And since the Concept2 SkiErg has a Biathlon feature programmed into the PM5, there’s no time like the present to give it a try!
Biathlon for Americans: It's not biath-a-lon; it's not the biathlon; it's the sport that combines cross-country skiing and shooting.Illustration of cross-country skiing and target shooting.Cross-country skiing is when you ski on uphills, downills, and flats. The courses don't go in a straight line.Cross-country skis are much skinnier than alpine skis and have a straighter shape. In biathlon, skiers skate-ski, which means your skis move side-to-side, like ice skating.A biathlon race consists of laps of a ski course alternated with shooting at targets. The entire things is timed, including the shooting. If you miss a target, you have to ski extra 150 meter laps. In one type of biathlon race, you get a whole minute added for every target you miss.Illustration of a penalty loop, which is adjacent to the main ski course. There are two types of shooting: prone (lying down) and standing.In prone, you shoot at a target the diameter of a golf ball. In standing, you shoot at a target the size of a softball.The targets are 50 meters away. In every race, athletes shoot both prone and standing. We shoot real bullets with a .22 gauge rifle.The challenge of biathlon is to be able to ski fast, but then be able to calm your breathing and hold your tired muscles steady to hit the targets. Biathlon races are exciting to watch because the lead can change a lot based on how the biathlete shoots.This is how much motion there is when you are looking through the peep sights when you aren't breathing hard (illustration of circle) and when you are (illustration of circle that appears to be moving in all directions).Disclaimer: I am trying to recruit biathlon fans in the U.S.

Tags: Olympics, SkiErg

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