|Biathlons (General) – A European and Russian endurance sport that combines cross country skiing and the skills of a rifle marksman.|
|Biathlons (Military) – Norwegian and Russian based military training that combines cross country skiing and rifle target shooting. Requires considerable skill and endurance when you add navigation (aka “land nav”) to target shooting. Not to mention the traversing of considerable distances on skis. A military necessity based on the climatic conditions of that part of the world.
About Biathlons – Biathlons are a mix of cross country skiing and target shooting with (originally) large bore rifles now small bore. Biathlons require stamina, agility, a high tolerance of cold weather climes, and the skill to hit targets at distances of 200 meters or more! Imagine traversing a course where one loop is 20 kilometers long! Then stopping along the way at firing ranges to hit a predetermined target with a limited amount of shells and hoping you do not miss or you will be docked minutes on your overall time.
Biathlons are a derivative of Russian and Nordic state military operations for protecting and guarding land masses covered by snow that have limited access. Soldiers would be adorned with white winter survival gear, cross country skis and large bore rifles. This predates the aviation era.
Thanks to North Pole explorer Fridtjof Wedel Jarlsberg Nansen who used cross country skis. The sport and concept was immortalized with a hero. See http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fridtjof_Nansen
This military practice, was overtime, morphed from a military tactical option to a training option then to sport. The original sport or “Old Program” per William D. Frank’s “Everyone to Skis!” was a course that consisted of a 20 kilometer loop with four separate firing ranges whereby targets were set as far out as 250 meters. Competitors had a total of 20 shots at paper targets measuring approximately 30 centimeters. Each shot missed would add a two minute penalty to the total ski time. Due to the difficulty of finding an area of 20 kilometers and building out four firing ranges modifications were made to the “Old Program” to now include smaller loops of up to five kilometers and one central firing range for all competitors to use. Note the racers are separated by one to two minute intervals at the starting line. This avoids congestion.
Newer rules now have smaller loops to cross country ski and use small bore rifles with targets out 50 meters. Other variations have been added such as relay teams and sprint races.
Interesting technical insights to the race include the use of waxes to improve the glide on snow. This is a science in itself. Ski waxes can improve, if done right, or severely hamper a competitor if done wrong. Waxes in general fall into “grip” and “glide” combos. Popular ski wax brands are Swix, Klister, Toko, ZumWax, Karandash, Pobeda, UKtus, TsOKB and Hertel. The Russians were first to capitalize on the use of wax for a competitive edge. They even had an egg beater type device to test waxes on the course by way of measuring the friction.
Small bore rifles are the firearm of choice. The biathlon rifle is usually a .22 caliber, straight-pull-bolt action model with non-optical sights.
Biathlon Canada – Combining cross country skiing and rifle marksmanship. Biathlon is an Olympic winter sport, which combines competitive, free-technique cross-country skiing and small-bore rifle marksmanship. Several other competition forms of movement and shooting – such as ski archery, snowshoe Biathlon, running and shooting and mountain bike Biathlon – are also normally included in the general category of Biathlon. The word competition is used in Biathlon instead of race because it is not only a race but a combination of two different competitive activities. Read More
Russian Biathlon Union – Russian Biathlon Union is an All-Russian noncommercial sports governing association founded in 1992. Read More
Team USA – U.S. Biathlon – Supports U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes in achieving sustained competitive excellence while demonstrating the values of the Olympic Movement, thereby inspiring all Americans. Read More