By: Kyle Isaacs ~Staff Writer~
The biathlon is an event that dates back to 1960, combining cross-country skiing with rifle shooting. The sport began as a military training exercise for Norwegian soldiers, but has developed into an entertaining spectacle for Olympic viewers enjoy.
Though the trail distances for each race vary, the setup is similar between events. During their trail, the competitors must stop at either two or four shooting rounds. At these points, they must complete half of the shots standing up and the other half in the “prone position” or lying down.
The contestants must hit five targets at each shooting stop, but every missed target counts against the skier’s total time. The targets are roughly 160 feet from the shooter, but fatigue and weather elements make even the simplest of shots more difficult for these athletes.
The United States has never won a medal in an Olympic biathlon event, neither in individual nor team competition. Thus far in Sochi, the closest the Americans have come to reaching the podium came during the Men’s Individual 20km, where Lowell Bailey finished in eighth place.
Though your patriotic senses may not be fulfilled during the biathlon, you should still tune in and check out this event, which is easily the most unique one of the Olympic games