By Darryl Alder
Dec 15, 2014

Biathlon Coming January 10th

Winter Olympics 2002Biathlon is a winter sport that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting, which presents an interesting dichotomy for me.  I love cross country skiing, it is by far my favorite winter sport (even more than downhill, which I have done since I was 12), but shooting, that is not my thing.

Imagine skiing until you are out of breath, then pausing to take a shot standing or in prone position. I can’t take aim well even when my chest is not heaving, but biathletes do it with amazing form.

According to Wikipedia: “This sport has its origins in an exercise for Norwegian people, as an alternative training for the military. Norwegian skiing regiments organized military skiing contests in the 18th century, divided in four classes: shooting at mark while skiing at top speed, downhill race among trees, downhill race on big hills without falling, and a long race on flat ground while carrying rifle and military pack. In modern terminology these military contests included downhill, slalom, biathlon and cross-country skiing.[1]

Cross Country dki“A biathlon competition consists of a race in which contestants ski around a cross-country trail system, and where the total distance is broken up by either two or four shooting rounds, half in prone position, the other half standing. Depending on the shooting performance, extra distance or time is added to the contestant’s total running distance/time. As in most races, the contestant with the shortest total time wins.

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My first biathlon was at Miller’s Flat near the Skyline Trail in Huntington canyon. It was a singular experience and one that you can repeat with your Varsity Scouts or Venturers this winter. Black Diamond District is hosting the event January 10, 2015. You can register here.

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Author: Darryl Alder | Strategic Initiatives Director, Utah National Parks Council, BSA.
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