Biathlon

Facts

Discipline of Biathlon
Participants 1239
NOCs 56
Competitions held 85 (Venues)
Distinct events 21
IF Internationale Biathlon Union, Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne

Description

Attempts to introduce a winter multi-event, patterned after the modern pentathlon, began in 1948, when the winter pentathlon was contested at the St. Moritz Olympics as a demonstration sport. It consisted of cross-country and downhill skiing, and also shooting, fencing, and horse riding. Biathlon, which consists of cross-country skiing in which the runner stops at intervals to shoot a rifle at a target, was known in the 1920s but was not popular until the 1950s. The first World Championships were held in 1958 at Saalfelden, Austria. The sport quickly was placed on the Olympic Program, showing up at Squaw Valley in 1960. Women’s biathlon made its Olympic début in 1992 as a full medal sport at Albertville. In 1924, a military patrol race was a medal sport at the Olympic Winter Games. Military ski patrol was similar to a team biathlon event, with team members skiing together.

Biathlon is currently governed by the Internationale Biathlon Union (IBU), which has 66 member nations as of 2010. Beginning in 1948, biathlon was governed by the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne et Biathlon, which oversaw both sports, but the organization split into two governing bodies in 1993.

Biathlon events have consisted of a single men’s race (20 km) and a men’s relay (4×7.5 km) until 1980 when a second individual event (10 km sprint) was contested. The event is scored by time. In the longer individual race a one-minute penalty is assessed for a missed shooting bulls-eye, and a two-minute penalty is assessed for missing a target. In the shorter individual race and the relay, missing a target is penalized by requiring the biathlete to ski a 150 metre penalty loop. Women currently also compete in the Olympics in both a short (7.5 km) and a long (15 km individual race, and a relay race. In 2002, a new individual pursuit event for men (12.5 km) and women (10 km) was added to the Olympic Winter program, and in 2006 a mass start race for men (15 km) and women (12.5 km) was added to the Olympic Program.

Germany has been the most successful nation in Olympic biathlon, winning 43 medals and 16 golds, followed by Norway, with 29 medals and 12 golds. The most successful individual has been Norway’s Ole Einar Bjørndalen, with 13 medals and 8 gold medals.

All-time medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Germany GER 19 21 12 52
Norway NOR 16 15 10 41
France FRA 9 5 11 25
Russian Federation RUS 9 5 8 22
Soviet Union URS 9 5 5 19
Sweden SWE 5 3 6 14
Belarus BLR 4 3 3 10
East Germany GDR 3 4 4 11
Slovakia SVK 3 3 1 7
Unified Team EUN 2 2 2 6
Canada CAN 2 0 1 3
West Germany FRG 1 2 2 5
Ukraine UKR 1 1 3 5
Bulgaria BUL 1 0 1 2
Czech Republic CZE 0 4 3 7
Finland FIN 0 4 2 6
Austria AUT 0 3 3 6
Italy ITA 0 1 5 6
Slovenia SLO 0 1 1 2
Kazakhstan KAZ 0 1 0 1
Poland POL 0 1 0 1
Switzerland SUI 0 1 0 1
Croatia CRO 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Ole Einar Bjørndalen NOR 8 4 1 13
Martin Fourcade FRA 5 2 0 7
Ricco Groß GER 4 3 1 8
Emil Hegle Svendsen NOR 4 3 1 8
Sven Fischer GER 4 2 2 8
Darya Domracheva BLR 4 1 1 6
Aleksandr Tikhonov URS 4 1 0 5
Kati Wilhelm GER 3 3 1 7
Anastasia Kuzmina SVK 3 3 0 6
Halvard Hanevold NOR 3 2 1 6

Event types

Name Gender Still contested? Times held?
10 kilometres Sprint Men 11
12.5 kilometres Pursuit Men 5
15 kilometres Mass Start Men 4
20 kilometres Men 16
4 × 7.5 kilometres Relay Men 14
7.5 kilometres Sprint Women 8
10 kilometres Pursuit Women 5
12.5 kilometres Mass Start Women 4
15 kilometres Women 8
4 × 6 kilometres Relay Women 4
2 × 6 kilometres and 2 × 7.5 kilometres Relay Mixed 2
7.5 kilometres Sprint Boys 3
10 kilometres Pursuit Boys 2
12.5 kilometres Boys 1
6 kilometres Sprint Girls 3
7.5 kilometres Pursuit Girls 2
10 kilometres Girls 1
2 × 6 kilometres and 2 × 7.5 kilometres Relay Mixed Youth 3
6 and 7.5 kilometres Single Relay Mixed Youth 2
3 × 7.5 kilometres Relay Women 1
4 × 7.5 kilometres Relay Women 3