2010 Vancouver Olympic Events: the Biathlon
One of the most popular Olympic events is the biathlon, particularly with European viewers. This is one of the prime competitions for the world’s premier endurance athletes. At this year’s Olympics, expect to see some fierce competition in this event. Although traditionally EU athletes have dominated the sport, Tim Burke of the U.S. is expected to make some big waves and is favored among those who believe the team has truly become world-class competitors.
The biathlon is always composed of two events. The term literally means “two tests” in Greek. In the winter Olympics, a biathlon consists of cross-country skiing followed by rifle marksmanship and then back to additional skiing and shooting legs on the course. The event was first introduced to the Olympics in 1924 but did not become a regular part of the games until 1960 due to rules disputes. Contrary to the earliest competitions, targets with computerized sensors and rimfire cartridges make the sport more standardized.
Interestingly enough, the winter biathlon is based on the military training for real-life endurance athletes: Norwegian soldiers. Back in mid 19th century, Norway’s military defense soldiers were put through a rigorous training regimen that combined skiing and rifle shooting. It is no less difficult today; the ability to expend enormous amounts of energy quickly covering snow-covered ground on skis and then steadying the muscles enough to accurately shoot a rifle from a standing or prone position requires a great deal of discipline and strength.
This year’s winter Olympics biathlon competition should be very exciting to watch as American endurance athletes pull for the first biathlete to have a solid chance of placing in the event. However, there is tough competition. Endurance athletes from countries like Canada and Switzerland train year round. It will be an exciting event.