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ABOUT BIATHLON

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ATHLETES

RANKING AND STATISTICS 2007/2008

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS 2007/2008

IMPORTANT VENUES

CURIOUS AND FUN

INTERNATIONAL BIATHLON UNION

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HISTORY OF BIATHLON IN A NUTSHELL

Biathlon is a winter sport that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. The sport has its origins in an exercise for Norwegian soldiers. The first known competition took place in 1767 when border patrol companies competed against each other. Gradually the sport became more common throughout Scandinavia as an alternative training for the military.

Called military patrol, the combination of skiing and shooting was competed at the Olympic Winter Games in 1924, and then demonstrated in 1928, 1936 and 1948, but did not regain Olympic recognition then, as the small number of competing countries disagreed on the rules During the mid-1950s, however, biathlon was introduced into the Russian and Swedish winter sport circuits and was widely enjoyed by the public.

The first World Championship in biathlon was held in 1958 in Austria, and in 1960 the sport was finally included in the Olympic Games. At Albertville in 1992, women were first allowed in Olympic biathlon.

The major international biathlon events are biathlon olympic games, biathlon world championships and biathlon world cup.

MAIN COMPETITION FORMATS

Individual

The 20 km Individual race (15 km for women) is the oldest biathlon event. The biathlete shoots four times at any shooting lane, in the order of prone, standing, prone, standing, totalling 20 targets. For each missed target a fixed penalty time, usually one minute, is added to the skiing time of the biathlete. Competitors' starts are staggered, normally by 30 seconds.

Sprint

The sprint is 10 km for men and 7.5 km for women. The biathlete shoots twice at any shooting lane, once prone and once standing, for a total of 10 shots. For each miss, a penalty loop of 150 m must be skied before the race can be continued. As in the Individual competition, the biathletes start in intervals.

Pursuit

In a Pursuit, biathletes' starts are separated by their time differences from a previous race, most commonly a Sprint. The contestant crossing the finish line first is the winner. The distance is 12.5 km for men and 10 km for women, there are four shooting bouts (two prone, two standing, in that order), and each miss means a penalty loop of 150 m. To prevent awkward and/or dangerous crowding of the skiing loops, and overcapacity at the shooting range, World Cup Pursuits are held with only the 60 top ranking biathletes after the preceding race. The biathletes shoot at the lane corresponding to the position they arrived (Arrive at the range in 5th place, you shoot in lane five.) for all shooting bouts

Mass start

In the Mass start, all biathletes start at the same time and the first across the finish line wins. In this 15 km (12.5 km for women) competition, there are four bouts of shooting (two prone, two standing, in that order) with the first shooting bout being at the lane corresponding to your bib (Bib #10 shoots at lane #10 regardless of position in race.) with rest of the shooting bouts being at the lane in the position they arrived (Arrive at the lane in 5th place, you shoot at lane five.). As in Sprint races, competitors must ski one 150 m penalty loop for each miss. Here again, to avoid unwanted congestion, World Cup Mass starts are held with only the 30 top ranking athletes on the start line (half that of the Pursuit since here all contestants start simultaneously).

Relay

The Relay teams consist of four biathletes, who each ski 7.5 km (men) or 6 km (women), with two shooting rounds; one prone, one standing. For every round of five targets there are eight bullets available, though the last three can only be single-loaded manually one at a time from spare round holders or bullets deposited by the competitor into trays or onto the mat at the firing line. If after eight bullets there are still misses, one 150 m penalty loop must be taken for each missed target remaining. The first-leg participants start all at the same time, and as in cross-country skiing relays, every athlete of a team must touch the team's next-leg participant to perform a valid changeover. On the first shooting stage of the first leg, the participant must shoot in the lane corresponding to their bib number (Bib #10 shoots at lane #10 regardless of position in race.), then for the remainder of the relay, the relay team shoots at the lane in the position they arrived (Arrive at the range in 5th place, you shoot at lane five.).