Competitions

INDIVIDUAL COMPETITION
The 20 km individual Race is the oldest competition discipline in Biathlon. The competitors, who start at 30 sec or at 1 min. intervals, have to master a total heigh difference between 600-750 meters over the 20 km course carrying their small bore calibre rifle (appox. 3.5 kg) and ammunition (20 rounds). The course compromises five sections of lenghts, some of which must be covered more than once. The competitor must complete 4 firing sessions each of 5 rounds in the sequence prone/standing- prne/standing with no support for the rifle. These individual firing sessions must take place between km 3 and 17.5 with at least 3 km between them. The competitor can choose his own firing lane. He fires over a distance of 50 m at electronic target. If he hits the black target it is covered by a white disc. The targed diameter is 45 mm in the prone position and 115 mm in the standing position. In the 20 km individual race the competitor is penalized white one minute for each missed target.
 
SPRINT COMPETITION
Biathlon Sprint is over a distance of 10 km with a total height difference of 300 - 450 m. Competitors in this sprint competition are started at 30 seconds or one minute intervals.
The first firing session in 5 rounds prone whith an unsupported rifle after approx. 3 km of cross-country. The second session is after about 7 km when 5 rounds are fired from standing position, again with the rifle unsupported.
Competitors fire over a range of 50 m at the same targets as in the individual competition. Each shot must be fed into the chamber from a magazine by a manual action. In contrast to the individual competition for each target they miss the competitors must cover a 150 m handicap loop taking approximately 23 seconds.
In the sprint race firing is faster and more risky, because the biathletes believe to have a chance of "catching up" the missed shot in the handicap loop. In addition to the time required by an athlete for each handicap loop he must, however, ski a further 150 m or more than competitors able to shoot whithout missing any the targets. This race is very lively and exiting.
The competitorīs time is taken between crossing then starting and finishing lines. Top athletes finish the competition in approx. 24 minutes without having to ski a handicap loop.
The womenīs sprint competition covers a distance of 7,5 with firing sessions between km 2,5 and km 5,0 in the sequence prone/standing. In both cases they fire 5 rounds with their unsupported rifles. All other sprint conditions for women are the same as those for men.
The best women sprinters take about 23 minutes to complete the 7,5 km race.
 
RELAY COMPETITION
The most exiting discipline is the Relay competition. Each team comprises 4 Biathletes each of whom has to ski 7,5 km whith two firing bouts, one prone and one standing, both with unsupported rifle. The teams cover a total distance of 30 km. There is an impressive mass start by all the first skiers in the respective teams.
Up to the first firing bout after 2,5 km, skiing is done under a tactical aspect. The field usually arrives "en masse" at the firing range, where the competitors fire on the lane corresponding to their starting number. Unlike the individual competition, each Biathlete has 8 rounds of ammunitions for 5 targets. The first 5 of these rounds are loaded from the magazine. The 3 reserve rounds, when needed, must be loaded single after having been placed at the firing point. If all the targets are hit with the first 5 rounds, the athlete can immediately continue to ski without covering a handicap loop. If not, he must continue firing until he has either hit all 5 targets or fired all 8 rounds. If he still has not hit all 5 targets he must then cover a 150 m handicap loop for each missed target. In the handover zone, the next racer is sent on his way with a pat on the back. The best teams need about 1 hour 20 minutes to cover the 30 km course.
A womenīs relay team comprises 4 competitors, each of whom skis 7,5 km to fire once prone and once standing. Each team covers a total distance of 30 km.
 
TEAM COMPETITION
Each team comprises 4 Biathletes who must ski 10 km as a cohesive group under similar conditions do those of the Sprint Race.
The team must complete 2 firing bouts. 2 biathletes must fire prone each, 2 biathletes must fire standing 5 rounds each.
On the evening before the race team must declare which members have to fire in the standing position. The biathletes which habe to fire prone have to wear the red and green bib, the athletes which have to fire standing have to wear then yellow and blue bib. The teams start at 1 minute intervals. The skiing order within the team is an internal decision. One team may only be overtaken by another as a closed-up formation. Similary, after each lap the team must reach the shooting place as a cohesive group.
The two biathletes to fire ski to free lanes while the other two continue pass the range, and enter a special area ahead of the handicap loop. There they wait in anticipation of the firin results of their team members. If they hit all 5 targets, each of the team can take up the race again without skiing handicap loops. But if one or more targets are missed both athletes must run a handicap loop of 150m for each miss.
Because of the 2 firing sessions and the consequent risk of handicap loops, the team placings change very often trough the race.
On the final lap after the second firing session the team must once more put everything into making up any lost ground. The team must cross the finishing line as a group within 15 seconds, or suffer a penalty of 1 minute.
The team race stands or falls on team work and team spirit, and has its own laws. Skiing speed depends upon the "weakest" team member. Netherless, every effort must go into the skiing.
Women race over a distance of 7,5 km under the same conditions as the men.
 
PURSUIT COMPETITION
The Pursuit competition was included by the IBU into the competition program of World Championships and World Cup event from 1996/97 season on. With 60 athletes at the start, the Pursuit competition will take about 30 minutes. Therefore, it integrates easily in the competition program and can be covered without problems by the TV. It is a very exciting competition in which the leaders on the sprint course will change quite often due to thef frequent shooting bouts. The spectator remains always informed about the current standing of the competition which allows also the athlete starting last to win. The start order is determined by the placings of the previous Sprint competition. The winner of the previous Sprint competition will be the first to start in the Pursuit, the second one following in an interval that is equal to the time he had lost in the Sprint competition compered to the Winner, and so on. During World Championships the 45 best of the previous Sprint competition will be eligible to start, for World Cup event, it will be 60 best of the previous Sprint. Medals for World Championships and World Cup points will be awarded for the previous Sprint and for the Pursuit competition. The men will ski a distance of 12,5 km and the women a distance of 10 km. There will be shooting bouts for the men after 2,5 km leg and after each 2 km leg for the women shooting 5 rounds at five targets in the positions prone, prone, standing, standing. This order of shooting - different from other Bithlon competitions - makes the competition more exciting allowing athlets who are good marksmen in one of the shooting positions to take the lead far ahead or to score better places. For each target missed, the competitors have to ski a penalty loop of 150 m that will cost some places. The spectators can easily follow this exciting competition as the sequence that the athletes take returning to the course after a penalty loop is the current standing in the competition. The IBU has submitted a motion to the IOC to include Pursuit competition into the program of the Olympic Winter Games from 2002 on.
 
MASS START COMPETITION
With a simulataneous start by all of the competitors, the Mass Start offers the ultimate in excitement and suspense for spectators. The format of the Mass Start is similar to the Individual execept the distanced are shorter and shooting follows the sequence of prone, prone, standing, standing.
Normal participation is limited to 27, which is the minimum number of targets required for a World Cup event, because each competitor requires a target at approximately the same time due to the simultaneous start.
Participation in the Mass Start is based on the top rankings of the current World Cup total score, and in the case of the World Championships also on the three medallists of the Individual, Sprint and Pursuit competitions. If competitors are lapped in the competition, they must withdraw immediately.

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