No, it has nothing to do with swimming, cycling and running (Triathlon) or just cycling and running (Duathlon). Biathlon is a Winter Olympic Sport which combines cross country skiing with precision target shooting. It is a combination of alternating skiing and rifle shooting abilities that requires balance between shooting accuracy and skiing skills and stamina.
Biathletes have to carry the rifle (which weighs a minimum of 3.5 Kg and fires 22mm bullets) on their back while skiing. Several combinations exist of race types and lengths, shooting positions (prone or standing) and penalties for missing shots. The 5 targets to be hit at each round stand at 50 metres and have the size of an orange – 11.5 cm diameter (for the prone and more stable shooting position the target is smaller inner circle – 4.5 cm).
Biathlon was originated in northern european countries mainly due to borderline guards and military patrols that need to move on harsh and extreme conditions and be armed to carry on their duties. The first competition deemed to be similar to modern Biathlon was held in Norway in the 18th century.
Overtime, after being just a demonstration sport in several Winter Olympic Games, it gained acknowledgment and finally the first Olympic Biathlon competitions were held in 1960 in Squaw Valley, California (USA). So, next time do not confuse it with triathlon or even duathlon. By the way, Biathlon’s seasons usually start in November and last till March. You can watch the 2012-2013 World Cup Events live on Eurosport, we will try to continue providing you relevant insights about this more and more popular sport.