Biathlon

Paralympic Biathlon at Whistler Olympic Park

For exciting exhibitions of stamina and strength, catch the Paralympic biathlon competitions set against the stunning backdrop of snowy peaks and breathtaking vistas of the beautiful Callaghan Valley. Paralympic biathlon combines fast and aggressive cross-country skiing with target rifle shooting; athletes compete in either short-distance or long-distance biathlon, and always shoot in a prone position.

Athletes are classified as standing, sitting or visually impaired and compete against other athletes with a similar disability. Visually impaired skiers use the same equipment as able-bodied skiers but ski with a guide. Standing skiers have a locomotive disability and are able to use the same equipment as able-bodied skiers. Sit-skiers usually have no use of their legs (paraplegic) and use a special made sit-ski (a specially built chair attached to a pair of skis).

Biathlon races comprise an interval start format with skiers starting every 30 seconds. The International Paralympic Committee utilizes a Nordic Percentage System in order to equalize the disability time handicap for skiers within each category. The percentage is applied to each skier’s final time and the skier with the lowest calculated time is the winner.

Short-distance Biathlon:

Skiers race a 2.5-km loop three times, stopping twice at the shooting range where they take five shots at a metal target 10 metres away. Each target has five plates, fixed in a straight row, which the athlete must hit the middle of. The bull’s eye is 15 mm in diameter and if a competitor misses a plate, they must ski a 150 m penalty loop for each missed shot. Visually impaired skiers use an acoustic system for shooting that uses differing tones as the rifle is aimed toward the bull’s eye.

Long-distance Biathlon:

Competitors ski the loop five times and stop four times at the shooting range. Missing a target plate can be costly: for every miss, a competitor receives a one minute time penalty that is added to their overall skiing time.

Find more information about the sport from Vancouver2010.com.