The PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympic Games kicked off today (March 9th) with Opening Ceremonies! We’re moving forward with our fourth sport preview, Biathlon!
Biathlon is a combination of a cross-country ski race and target shooting. How did this unlikely combination of sports come about? It dates back to 18th century Norway which conducted military training for skiing regiments. The soldiers would not only have to ski long distances with a pack and rifle on their back but they’d also have to be excellent marksmen.
Biathlon was introduced in the Olympics as a demonstration sport for the 1924 Winter Olympic Games with its official acceptance not coming until the 1960 Games. It was then introduced to the Paralympics in Innsbruck in 1988 for athletes with physical impairment and in 1992 for the visually impaired. As with alpine skiing, biathlon events are held for sitting, standing and visually impaired skiers with women’s and men’s categories. Most standing and visually impaired athletes use regular skis and poles while the sitting use sit skis. Visually impaired skiers will have a guide on the course with them as well as acoustic signals identifying the target. Events in the Paralympic Games will range from 6 and 7.5 kilometers for the women and men in the Short Distance to 12.5 and 15 kilometers in the Long Distance. In between each lap athletes shoot 5 shots at a target that is 10 meters away. The penalty for a miss is the skier must do an extra 150 m loop for every missed shot.
The Para Biathlon World Championship was held last February. Ukraine led the way with 25 medals and an amazing 7 out of 12 golds. Liudmyla Liashenko, Oksana Shyshkova and Ihor Reptyukh had 2 gold medals each. We’ll be looking for them and all the other biathlon contenders in PyeongChang!
Paralympic competition starts today (March 9th) and runs until Friday, March 16 with medals awarded on the 10th, 13th, and 16th! Head to the NBC Olympics or Paralympic Games websites or check out the TV schedule to watch!