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(bīăth`lŏn), sport in which cross-country skiers race across hilly terrain, occasionally stopping to shoot, prone or standing as required, with rifles at sets of fixed targets. The biathlon features the 10-km (6.2-mi) sprint, in which contestants shoot at two sets of targets; the 12.5-km (7.8-mi) pursuit, in which contestants shoot four times and start at intervals determined by their finish in the sprint; the 20-km (12.5-mi) race with four shooting stops; a 30 contestant, 15-km (9.3-mi) mass start race with four shooting stops; and a relay race with four 7.5-km (4.7-mi) legs and two shooting stops per leg. The women's races are shorter: a 7.5-km (4.7-mi) sprint, a 10-km (6.2-mi) pursuit, a 15-km (9.3-mi) race, a 12.5-km (7.8-mi) mass start race, and a relay with 6-km (3.7-mi) legs. In the mixed relay, two women and then two men ski a leg of the appropriate length. Competitors are penalized for each missed target by having a standard length added to the course distance that they must complete, or by having a minute added to their time. The control of fine motor skills and breathing required to shoot after the skiing segment makes this a demanding sport. Biathlon competition developed from the military training of ski troops. The sport first became an official part of the Winter Olympics in 1960. Biathlon has also recently acquired meaning as applied to a combined two-sport competition, such as running and swimming.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a modern winter two-event competition—ski racing with riflery. While covering a distance of 20 km, the athlete makes five shots each at four firing ranges between the fifth and 18th kilometers: twice at a target 30 cm in diameter (while upright) and twice at a target 15 cm in diameter (while prostrate). The distance to the targets is 150 m. For each miss there is a penalty of two minutes, which are added to the time shown in the ski race. In 1960 the biathlon was incorporated into the program of the winter Olympic games. The winners of the Olympic games have been K. Lestander, a Swede (1960, Squaw Valley), Soviet athlete V. Melan’in (1964, Innsbruck), and M. Solberg (1968,Grenoble). At the Xth Olympics (1968, Grenoble) the 4 × 7.5-km relay was won by the team of Soviet biathlonists (A. Tikhonov, N. Puzanov, V. Mamatov, and V.Gundartsev). Among Soviet athletes, world champions in the biathlon have been V. Melan’in (1959), V. Mamatov (1967), A. Tikhonov (1969), and A. Ushakov (juniors, 1969). In the world championship (1969) the 4 × 7.5-km relay was won by Soviet athletes A. Tikhonov, V. Mamatov, V. Gundartsev, and R. Safin, and the 3 x 7.5-km relay was won by Soviet juniors V. Tolkachev, A. Tagirov, and A. Ushakov.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
And despite their youth the Stockton army lance corporal - who incurred four shooting penalties in the pursuit - has welcomed their influence after being named as the only British biathlete at the Games.
GERMAN biathlete Florian Graf has apologised for his "blackout" moment in which he stuck his highly sensitive small-bore rifle in his face during a World Cup race in Oberhof, Germany.
BIATHLETE Lee-Steve Jackson ended his Winter Olympics debut with a second career-best effort in four days - and admitted he is counting on it earning him a promotion.
STOCKTON biathlete Lee Jackson is up for the challenge of producing a new personal best performance - and best British display for well over a decade - as he gets set to make his Winter Olympics debut in Vancouver tomorrow.
"They're really wide, and there's lots of natural snow here, and they did an amazing job on making the range and that whole aspect of it," said Mat Stachura, a Canadian biathlete and Olympic hopeful.
LIVERPOOL College biathlete Tom Schumacher overcame a severe arm injury to get back to his best and win the British Championships in Manchester.
Veteran biathlete Mike Dixon, competing in his sixth Games, will carry the Union Jack for an unprecedented third time in a row after an overwhelming ballot result in his favour from his team-mates.
Slovak biathlete Anastasiya %20" rel="noopenerKuzmina won the last women's individual discipline at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.
Three British athletes - Alison Williamson (Archery), Mary King (Equestrian Eventing) and Nick Skelton (Equestrian Jumping) - will be competing at their sixth Olympic Games, matching the feat of javelin thrower Tessa Sanderson (1976-1996), fencer Bill Hoskyns (1956 to 1976) and biathlete Mike Dixon (Winter Olympics 1984-2002).
BIATHLETE Lee Jackson has vowed to leave nothing to chance in an attempt to break into the world's top 20 during the last event on his Winter Olympic bow tomorrow.
"And who gave her that passport???" the police, "feeling excited", wrote on their official Facebook page after Anastasiya Kuzmina won her and Slovakia's second Olympic medal in Pyeongchang on February 15.Let's not to spoil the well-deserved joy of Slovaks over their Olympic biathlete star and go into the technicalities of who awards citizenship and for what motive.
North East biathlete Lee-Steve Jackson shrugged off nerves on the shooting range to record a career best finish in the men's 10km sprint in Whistler.