Biathlon’s Sprint Event – What is it and what matters most?

Following our post on Biathlon’s origins and its main characteristics we depict today one of its events, the Sprint. The sprint event has a length of 10 Km (men) or 7.5 Km (women) and requires Biathletes to ski on a standalone basis against the clock (Biathletes depart with a 30 seconds interval between each other) and have to handle 2 shooting range sessions with 5 targets each.

The first one is taken in the prone position (at 3.3 Km for men and 2.5 Km for women) and the second one in the standing position (at 6.6 Km for men and 5 Km for women). Although shooting accuracy is very important, in this short length race ski speed is relatively more decisive than in other events.

Each shot missed obliges a ski penalty loop of 150 metres to be managed after the shooting range before joining again the normal track course (on average, this means a penalty of around 22/23 seconds for men and 24/25 for women).

It is common for Biathletes with higher ski velocity, even if failing more shots, to record better against the clock then others with higher shooting precision but with weaker ski skills. Extreme weather changes during the event (e.g. heavy snow or unstable wind) may dramatically affect the final results since it may favor Biathletes completing their course under better ski glide, visibility and steady shooting conditions.

At this date, the Biathlete holding the record of world cup sprint events winnings (35) is Norwegian’s Ole Einar Bjoerndalen. The results of the Sprint event determine the departure order of the Pursuit event which is normally held one day after. Our new post will cover the features of a Pursuit race.

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