The sport of biathlon has been compared to running up 10 flights of stairs and then trying to thread a needle at the top. Athletes need the cardiovascular power to race on cross-country skis, and the calm precision to train rifles on five coin-sized targets half a football field away.
The Salt Lake 2002 Games featured eight biathlon events ranging from the women’s 15km individual to the men’s 4 by 7.5km relay. For each target missed, athletes incurred a 2-minute penalty or were required to ski a lap around the 150m penalty loop, depending on the event.
On February 11, the 10-year anniversary of women’s Olympic biathlon debut, Andrea Henkel of Germany shot a near-flawless race to win the gold; that same day, Norway’s Ole Einar Bjorndalen won the first of four medals he would bring home from the Salt Lake 2002 Games. His last was in the men’s 4 by 7.5km relay. “The last gold was the most important,” he said, “because it was the whole team — something we did together as a team.”
International Biathlon Union http://www.biathlonworld.com