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.
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.
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.