BIATHLON

Nouveau Brunswick - New Brunswick



History


BIATHLON BACKGROUNDER


Welcome


to the exciting and challenging world of Biathlon!


DEFINITION

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 disabled 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

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THE CHALLENGE

The combination of two very contradictory disciplines, skiing and shooting,in the same competition confronts an athlete with a very demanding challenge. Cross-country racing requires intense, full out physical exertion over an extended period of time while shooting demands extremely fine control and stability. When athletes arrive at the shooting range, they have to shoot at a very small target, with a racing heartbeat and heaving chest because the clock is running even while they are shooting.

 

HISTORY

Biathlon is classed as a life sport because it has had, and still has, an application in everyday living. Cave drawings found in Norway, dating back some 5000 years, give us the earliest record of skiing and carrying a weapon for hunting or fighting.   Historical records from Asia also tell of "winged horses" on the feet of hunters in pursuit of game animals over snow. The first historically recorded Biathlon competition took place near the Swedish-Norwegian border in 1767, between companies of border guards from the two countries. Generally, development of Biathlon continued through hunting and warfare until it became a demonstration sport in the first Olympic Winter Games in 1924 in Chamonix, France under the name of Military Patrol. Since then, Biathlon has undergone many dramatic changes, including admission into the Olympic Games as Biathlon in 1960 in Squaw Valley and a change to small-bore rifles (.22 in) in 1978.  Old Time Biathlon

 

From a Canadian perspective, the most significant highlights began with the participation of a Canadian Biathlon team at the 1968 Olympic Winter Games in Grenoble. The next time Canadians competed in Biathlon in the Olympics was at the Calgary Games in 1988 – twenty years later. In notable performances, Myriam Bedard put Canada on the world map when she won a bronze medal at the Albertville Games in 1992, which was also the first time women competed in Biathlon in the Olympics. Myriam became a Canadian and world heroine when she astoundingly won two gold medals – Individual and Sprint competitions - at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympic Winter Games, and became the first woman ever to do so. To this time, her achievement has not been equaled.

 

GOVERNING BODIES

International Biathlon is governed by the International Biathlon Union (IBU), an International Federation with 70 member nations. Biathlon Canada is the National Sport Organization and governing body for Biathlon in Canada, and has an office in Ottawa, Ontario. New Brunswick has an active Biathlon movement under the governing body Biathlon Nouveau-New Brunswick.

 

DESCRIPTION OF A BIATHLON COMPETITION

In a Biathlon competition the Biathlete skis distances varying from 6 to 20 km and stops at the shooting range to shoot two or four times, with both the distance and number of shooting bouts depending on the type of competition in question. The shooting distance is always 50 m and five rounds are fired in each bout at five targets, except in the Relay competition in which the competitor has three spare rounds for each bout. There are two shooting positions, prone and standing, which are done in a sequence depending on the competition..

 

Target diameters are 115 mm for standing and 45 mm for prone. During the entire competition, from start to finish, the clock is running for the competitor - there is no time-out for shooting. Penalties for missed targets are imposed either as one minute of added time per target for the Individual competition or as a 150 m penalty loop - done immediately after each bout of shooting - for all other competitions. In essence, the competitor starts at the start line, skis one trail loop (length depending on the competition), comes to the range and shoots, skis another loop, shoots, and so on, and then finishes with a ski loop to the finish line after the last bout of shooting.

 

SAFETY

Because Biathlon includes shooting, stringent regulations govern all actions of the competitors with regard to shooting safety and rifle handling. Even the smallest violation of safety regulations results in a disqualification. As a consequence of the very strictly enforced safety rules, Biathlon has an excellent safety record.

 

CLASSES OF COMPETITORS AND COMPETITIONS

In international events there are six classes of competitors: Men, Women, Junior Men and Junior Women, and Youth Men and Women. A Junior becomes a Man or a Woman on November 1 of the year of their 21st birthday and a Youth becomes a Junior in the year of their 19 th birthday. There is no minimum age for the youth classes. Men and Women cannot compete in Junior events but Juniors may compete with the senior classes   Separate events are held for the senior and youth/junior classes,   including World Championships. National and provincial events normally include youth and masters classes. There are eight international types of competitions: Individual, Sprint, Pursuit, Mass Start and Relay, Mixed Relay and

Super Sprint of which all but the Mixed Relay and Super Sprint are in the program of the Olympic Winter Games. In Canada, there are additional classes of Senior and Junior Boys and Girls, 15 and 16, and 13 and 14 years of age respectively.

 

From a Canadian perspective, the most significant highlights began with the participation of a Canadian Biathlon team at the 1968 Olympic Winter Games in Grenoble. The next time Canadians competed in Biathlon in the Olympics was at the Calgary Games in 1988 – twenty years later. In notable performances, Myriam Bedard put Canada on the world map when she won a bronze medal at the Albertville Games in 1992, which was also the first time women competed in Biathlon in the Olympics. Myriam became a Canadian and world heroine when she astoundingly won two gold medals – Individual and Sprint competitions - at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympic Winter Games, and became the first woman ever to do so. To this time, her achievement has not been equaled.