Check Out the Unique Winter Olympics Sport of Biathlon

The Olympics Games are among the world’s leading sports competition. It unveils games that we can only watch again in the next Olympics after four years. There are some games that people get to hear and see only in the Olympics because of their nature, the equipment needed to practice, etc.

One of the Olympics’ interesting sport is Biathlon. Rare as the name sound, it has been around since the 18th century as a military alternative training exercise. 


Biathlon was first played in the Winter Olympic Games in 1924 as military patrol. However, it was contested, reorganized itself and was re-accepted as an Olympic sport in 1955. Do you want to find more about this sport? Keep reading.

Check Out the Unique Winter Olympics Sport of Biathlon
Image Source: Catholic All Year

What Is the Sport Biathlon?

The winter sport biathlon is a sport that combines rifle shooting and cross-country skiing. It is considered a race with participants skiing through a cross-country path whose distance is split into shooting rounds. 

Depending on the competition, the shooting rounds are not timed but missed shots lead to extra time or distance being added to the participant’s total.


Biathlon’s highest governing body is the International Biathlon relay teams and is played by mixed gender. The equipment used in this game are poles, skis and rifle. Biathlon has participated in the Olympics twice; in 1924 (when it was called military patrol) and in 1960.


The Biathlon traces its origins in the skiing traditions of Scandinavia. Here, early inhabitants respected the Norse god Ullr as both the hunting and ski god. In modern times, this sport developed from an exercise for Norwegian people. It was an alternative military training.

Norwegian skiing regiments arranged military skiing contests in the 18th century and were split into four classes; downhill race among trees, shooting at target while skiing at top speed, downhill race on huge hills without falling and racing on a flat surface while carrying a military pack and rifle. 


In modern day, these military competitions included slalom, downhill, biathlon and cross country skiing. 

Modern Biathlon

The modern biathlon is a civilian variation of the old military combined exercise. It was a branch of Det frivillige Skyttervesen in Norway until 1984. Det frivillige Skyttervesen is an organization founded by the government to help civilian marksmanship in support of national defense. 

In Norwegian, biathlon is named skiskyting to mean ski shooting. Biathlon was later named military patrol and it was contested in 1924 at the winter Olympic Games. It was later demonstrated in 1928, 1936 and 1948. 

During these times, Finland and Norway were strong competitors. The sport was reorganized under the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne et Biathlon in 1948 and was re-allowed as a Winter Olympics sport in 1955 with extensive popularity in Swedish and Soviet Winter Sport circuits. 

In the Olympics

The first Biathlon World Championship was in 1958 in Austria. In 1960, Biathlon was included in the Olympic Games and women were first allowed to play Biathlon in 1992 at Albertville.  The pursuit format was incorporated for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics

From 1958 to 1965, the Biathlon competition used high-power centerfire cartridges before they were standardized in 1978. Contestants used to carry ammunition in a belt worn around the waist. The main event was the men’s 20 km individual covering four separate ranges and firing distances of 100, 150, 200, and 250 meters. 

Check Out the Unique Winter Olympics Sport of Biathlon
Image Source: Thing Link

Basic Concepts of the Sport

A Biathlon competition involves a race in which contestants ski via a cross-country track system with a distance divided into two or four shooting rounds. Of these shooting positions, half are in prone position while the other half is standing. 

Depending on the shooting, extra time or distance is added to the participants’ total skiing time/distance. The winner is the contestant with the shortest total time.

Final Thoughts

The biathlon sport is a rare Olympic sport. It combines rifle shooting and cross-country skiing. It is considered a race where contestants ski through a cross-country path with a distance split into shooting rounds. It originated in the skiing traditions of Scandinavia and later developed into an exercise for Norwegian people, an alternative military training.

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