2018 Winter Olympics: Biathlon

Updated February 13, 2018 | Factmonster Staff

2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang

A demanding combination of exertion and precision

Biathlon Star Timofei Lapshin Competes in Pyeongchang
Source: AP Photo/Lee Jin-man

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Did You Know?

The first known biathlon competition took place between two Norwegian guard companies in 1767.

A demanding combination of exertion and precision, the biathlon combines cross-country skiing and riflery. It was originally devised as a means for hunting. Norway, which has recently dominated the sport at the Olympic level, used the sport as a military tactic for defending the nation's borders.

The events

The men compete in the following:

  • 10 km sprint
  • 12.5 km pursuit
  • 20 km individual
  • 4x7.5 km relay, 2x7.5 km relay (mixed)
  • 15 km mass start

The women compete in the following:

  • 7.5k m sprint
  • 10 km pursuit
  • 15 km individual
  • 4x6 km relay, 2x6 km relay (mixed)
  • 12.5 km mass start

The rifles that are used are .22 caliber, and each weighs a minimum of 7.7 lb (3.5 kg).

In each discipline there are shooting stops placed along the course: two stops for the sprint and relay; four stops for the pursuit, mass start, and individual events. Half of the shooting stops are standing and half are prone.

At each stop, competitors have five bullets and five targets (50 m away) to hit. Each miss in the sprint, pursuit, mass start, and relay events results in a 150-m penalty loop. Each miss in the individual event adds one minute to the athlete's final time.

In the relay, each athlete is allowed three extra bullets. The extra bullets must be hand-loaded one at a time, and they must be used until all five targets have been hit or all the bullets have been shot.

The Pyeongchang Games

The biathlon will be held at the Alpensia Biathlon Centre, part of a larger resort that also hosts the Cross-Country Centre and the Ski Jumping Centre. Alpensia has hosted the Paralympic Games and the Biathlon World Championships since its recent founding in the 1990s.

The biathlon events begin with the Women's 7.5km sprint on Feb. 10, and conclude with the Men's 4x7.5km relay on Feb. 23.


More about the 2018 Winter Olympics

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