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Biathlon is a Winter Olympics event which combines rifle shooting and cross-country skiing.

Competitors ski over a cross-country course carrying a .22 calibre rifle and ammunition. They shoot at targets at various points along the course. They shoot, either standing up or prone (lying down), at targets which are 50 metres away.

Events for men include a 4 x 7.5 kilometre relay and a 10 kilometre sprint. Women compete in a 7.5 kilometre sprint and a 4 x 6 kilometre relay. Competitors race against the clock and have time added if they miss a target or are they are made to ski a penalty loop of 150 metres. The competitor who completes the course in the fastest time wins.

History of biathlon

The combination of skiing and shooting skills developed in Scandinavian countries from winter hunting activities. Competitions in the skills were held in Norway as long ago as 1767 and Norwegian soldiers first organised biathlon competitions in 1912.

Biathlon for men was an Olympic sport from 1924. It was dropped after World War 11 but returned in 1960. Women's biathlon became an Olympic event in 1992.

Read more about this sport and watch video:

http://www.olympic.org/biathlon