One of the most atmospheric spectator sports at the Winter Olympic Games, biathlon will be sure to provide plenty of drama in Alpensia. The likes of European powerhouses Norway, France and Germany will no doubt be favourites to claim multiple medals while there is hope Australia will be represented in the sport despite the tougher qualification route for the PyeongChang 2018 Games.
Athletes to watch: Damon and Darcie Morton will be looking to emulate their father Cameron who is one of six Australian biathletes to have competed in the green and gold for Australia in Olympic competition. Older brother Damon is hoping a strong IBU Cup season will be enough to secure his spot while Lillehammer 2016 Youth Olympian Darcie will be aiming to progress as much as possible leading into the Games. Three-time national champion Jill Colebourn is also pushing for an Olympic berth.
Qualification, Nomination & Selection
Australia will be hoping to qualify one male and one female for Biathlon at PyeongChang 2018. Qualification will be based on the IBU qualifying points list rankings and FIS-style points which will be finalised following the final qualification event on January 21, 2018. For the full details on qualification
If an athlete has qualified then they will be eligible to be nominated to the Australian Olympic Committee for selection. For the full details on nomination to the Australian Olympic Winter Team
Once nominated the AOC’s Selection Committee will then make the final decision on the athlete’s selection to the Team for PyeongChang 2018.
Competition Format & Events
Biathlon involves using the free cross country technique in conjunction with target shooting. Athletes ski loops of the course, stopping each time to fire five shots of a small calibre rifle aiming to hit five targets. Participants rotate shooting from the standing position and prone position (lying down on one’s torso). Target size varies depending on the shooting position - 11.5cm for standing and 4.5cm for prone. The distance between the shooting position and the target is 50 metres. Penalties for missed targets are imposed either as one minute of added time per target for the Individual competition or as a 150m penalty loop - done immediately after each bout of shooting - for all other competitions
There are 11 events on the competition program: men’s and women’s sprint, pursuit, individual, mass start and relays, as well as a mixed relay which has been added for the Sochi 2014 Games.
The individual has the longest skiing distance of all solo biathlon events- 20km for men and 15km for women. Biathletes start at intervals of either 30 seconds or one minute. Men start by skiing 4km and then shooting, continuing the sequence until they have shot four times. Women generally do the same, but with 3km ski loops for their 15km competition.
There is a one minute penalty incurred for every shot missed. For that reason, shooting is more important in the individual competition than other events- where athletes must complete a penalty loop of 150m which takes about 21 to 26 seconds to ski. The Individual competition takes about 55 minutes to compete for the best competitors.
The Sprint is an abbreviated version of the Individual competition and one in which speed is a key factor. Men race 10km, and women 7.5km, each with two shooting rounds - one prone and one standing. For every missed target, a competitor must complete a 150m penalty loop.
With shorter distances and only two bouts of shooting for all classes, the skiing times are around 30 minutes.
The top 60 athletes from the Sprint event qualify for the pursuit. They start in a staggered formation based on their start times from the Sprint, with the winner of qualifying starting first and the rest following in the order and time that they finished behind the winner in qualifying. This makes for thrilling racing as you see athletes overtake one another and you can always see who is leading.
Men ski 12.5km and women 10km. Each covers four shooting stages—the first two are taken prone and the second two from a standing position. As with the Sprint competition, athletes ski a 150m penalty loop for each miss.
The Mass Start competition is one of the newest biathlon formats. It covers a distance of 15km for men and 12.5km for women, with four shooting stages, the first two prone and second two standing. In each race, the 30 highest ranked athletes start together simultaneously and take their place at the first shooting stage depending on their starting number. Athletes line up at the remaining shooting stages depending on the order in which they arrived at the firing line. A 150m penalty loop is added for each miss.
The Relay consists of four-person national teams covering 4x7.5km for men and 4x6km for women.
The first competitors from each team start simultaneously, ski 2.5km (2km for Women), shoot prone, ski 2.5km, shoot standing and then continue with the last 2.5km to tag the next team member, or – in the case of the last competitor – ski to the finish line.
Each competitor in a relay competition carries three spare rounds. If all five targets are not knocked down with the first five rounds, the spares must be used. The concept is that because of the intense pressure in the relay, the competitor may wish to shoot extremely fast, and then be able to get away quickly if all five targets are hit. However, if all five targets are not hit with the five rounds in the magazine, the spare rounds must be loaded individually by hand, which takes much more time and which is very difficult under pressure. Penalty laps of 150m are incurred for each missed target.
Sochi will host the first Olympic mixed relay, comprising of two men and two women in each team. Women open the relay, completing the first two legs- each 6km with two rounds of shooting. The men then complete the third and fourth legs which are 7.5km. In other respects, the procedure for the mixed relay competition is as in the above description.
Australia and Olympic Biathlon
Australia has been represented by six biathletes in Olympic competition. Andrew Paul was Australia’s first when he competed at the 1984 Sarajevo Games before he returned four years later to again be Australia’s sole competitor at the 1988 Calgary Games.
Andrew’s wife, Sandra Paintin-Paul, lined up alongside Kerryn Rim as Australia’s first female biathletes in Olympic competition at the 1992 Albertville Games. Rim’s 8th place finish at Lillehammer 1994 in the 15km Individual event remains Australia’s best result in Olympic competition. She returned to her third and final Olympic Games four years later at Nagano 1998.
After having no representatives at the 2002 Games, Cameron Morton lined up at Torino 2006. Alex Almoukhov was then Australia’s only competitor at Vancouver 2010 before he backed up four years later alongside Lucy Glanville at the Sochi 2014 Games.
Pre-PyeongChang AUS Tally
10 (Days 1-3, 5-6, 8-9, 11, 13-14)
- Medal Events
- Total Athletes
228 (114 men & 114 women)
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Colebourn takes us out on the biathlon course 18 August 2017
Biathlete and PyeongChang 2018 hopeful Jill Colebourn takes us out on course.
Korean phrases: Hengunul Beegeyo/Good Luck 12 July 2017
This phrase is a handy one for athletes and spectators as we prepare to cheer on the Aussie team at PyeongChang 2018.
Korean phrase: Ajoo Chowoyo/It's so cold 10 July 2017
With an average temperature of -3°c in February in PyeongChang, this is a Korean phrase that might come in handy for our Olympic team at PyeongChang 2018!
Darcie Morton skiing through the ranks 20 June 2017
Darcie Morton is following in her father and brother's footsteps down the Biathlon track.
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Morton making his move towards PyeongChang 31 May 2017
Damon Morton is looking to follow in his father Cameron's footsteps by representing Australia in biathlon at the Olympic Games.