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Biathlon

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Biathlon is a winter sport that combines cross country skiing with precision target shooting.  It dates back thousands of years due to its close association with hunting and winter transportation, but its development as a sport began in 1776 in Norway.  The first Olympic Winter Games in 1924 included a military ski patrol race, however the full sport of biathlon was not included until 1960.  Although it is still a relatively small sport in Canada, it is a very popular sport in Europe, drawing millions of spectators and viewers annually to regional, national, and international events.

Biathlon Facts

  • Athletes use .22 rifles
  • Skate skiing technique
  • 2 shooting positions: standing and prone
  • Time or distance penalties given for missing targets

Biathlon is a seemingly unlikely combination of events; it combines an aerobic activity, which requires strength, speed, and endurance, with a passive activity, which requires concentration, mental toughness and a steady hand.  The combination of the aerobic activity and skilled shooting makes for a challenging and exciting event. 

In British Columbia, athletes typically enter the sport from cross country ski programs or through the Biathlon Bears; a national program that trains children age 8-12 with the dual skills of skiing and shooting.  At the BC Winter Games, athletes ages 13-16 compete in two age categories, Juniors (13-14) and Seniors (15-16).  There are a number of different races including individual and sprint races where athletes start at timed intervals in a race against the clock, and a super sprint race which is a mass start, “first across the finish line” competition.  All three competitions offer high-level competition, tests of endurance, and an adrenaline filled experience for the spectators.

Biathlon BC is the organization responsible for the sport in the province.  Notable alumni include Sarah Beaudry (2008 BC Winter Games) of Prince George who went on to win gold at the 2011 Canada Games and competed at the Youth Olympic Games and World Youth Championships and is a current member of the national Biathlon team.