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Olympic Biathlon
© LaPresse

Depictions of prehistoric hunters, holding weapons and propelled along on wooden planks (similar to skis), date back 4,000 years.

In the Middle Ages, the activity had become a popular winter sport, when woman were also joining in on the hunt as seen in 16th century llustrations.

By the 18th century, border patrols in Northern Europe were competing in early biathlons, but it wasn't until the 20th century that the first Olympic biathlon was entered as a demonstration sport.

 

Canada - CBC Olympics CBC

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1960 saw the Olympic biathlon's first official appearance as an Olympic event at the Squaw Valley Winter Olympics, with the first biathlon competition for women featured at the Albertville games in 1992.

One of the most challenging of winter sports, the biathlon combines the physical demands of cross-country skiing with the mental acuity of precision marksmanship. The true test of a biathlon athlete converges at the shooting range, as competitors are forced to stop, take a breath, aim, and hit their target. Missed targets are made up with additional distance or minutes added to the course - so stamina over the long haul is a hard-won attribute of any champion biathlete.

Five men's and women's competitions comprise the the Olympic program in individual, sprint, pursuit, relay and mass start competitions.


athlete at the Winter Olympics biathlonDID YOU KNOW? Olympic biathlon fun facts

• Biathlon is the only sport at the Winter Games to involve shooting.

• Biathlon originated in hunting techniques used in Scandinavian countries dating back centuries, when hunters would ski cross-country with rifles mounted on their backs to find prey.

• The most decorated biathlon athlete in Olympic history is the “King of Biathlon”, Ole Einar Björndalen from Norway with 13 medals: 8 Gold, 4 Silver, and a Bronze.


More about Olympic biathlon around the Web:

International Olympic Committee - Biathlon - Overview of the biathlon competitions, list of events, Olympic records, Flash presentation, star athlete profiles, picture gallery.

Biathlon World - Top news headlines, pictures, video clips, databases searchable by event, results or athlete, online chat, forum, fun and games.

US Biathlon - The official team site offering headline news, calendar of events, results, athlete profiles, pictures, online store.

Biathlon Canada - Official team site featuring the latest news, results and standings, pictures, athlete biographies, details on men's and women's programs, related links and resources in English and French.

 

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