300 Days Until Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games
Now that the 2016-17 biathlon season is over, the focus now shifts to the Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang just 300 days away! This will be biathlon's 16th appearance at the Olympic Winter Games. Here are some fun facts about Biathlon and the Olympics.
1) The prototype of biathlon, military patrol was a medal sport in 1924 and a demonstration sport in 1928, 1936 and 1948. The athletes wore backpacks to simulate the military experience. The balloon targets were 150 meters away; each hit balloon took a minute off the ski time. The total distance was 25K.
2) The exact date and time of birth of biathlon as an Olympic sport was on February 21, 1960 at Squaw Valley, USA. Herbert Kirchener of Germany wore the historic bib number 1 in the 20K individual competition, the only event on the program. He later remembered his experience, “As the first competitor, I did not have a single crumb of wax left on my wooden skis by the first shooting range after 4K.” It was Klas Lestander from Sweden who became the first Olympic Champion in biathlon.
3) This historic biathlon at the Olympic Winter Games was nothing like today. This first competition was a men's 20K classic style. It was not until 1992, when women first competed at the Albertville OWG. The relay was added to Olympic program in 1968; the sprint in 1980, the pursuit in 2002 and the mass start in 2006. The “youngest” Olympic biathlon discipline is the mixed relay.
4) The most decorated athlete in biathlon, and Olympic history is the living legend, “King of Biathlon” Ole Einar Björndalen with 13 medals: 8 Gold, 4 Silver, and a Bronze. Germany's Uschi Disl is next on the biathlon medals list with nine.
5) Three men, Björndalen, Latvia's Ilmars Bricis, and Austria's Alfred Eder lead the “most Olympic appearances" category, each competing six times!
6) The largest OWG medal collection belongs to Germany with 45 medals, followed by Norway with 35, and Russia with 24 medals. However, adding the 19 Soviet Union medals to the Russian total, adds up to 43, which would move Russia to the number two spot. Those totals will change in just over 300 days.
7) Only 35 sets of twins have at the same Olympic Winter Games event, Valja and Vita Semerenko of Ukraine are the only biathlon twins in this elite group.
8) Biathlon will head to Pyeongchang for the fourth time. Previous visits include the 2008 World Cup, 2009 IBU World Championships and most recently, the BMW IBU world Cup there last month.
9) Biathletes will compete at 10 individual and team events, with 30 medals at stake.
10) Many biathletes can speak Korean, check out the video: