Friday, February 12, 2010

2010 Winter Olympic Preview - Biathlon



Biathlon Preview

The Biathlon is one bad event. It is a combination of skiing and rifle. Seems easy right? Have you ever watched rifle? It is hard to do. It is like trying to shoot a popcorn kernel from 60 meters away. Not so easy. Those dudes get the chicks, and those chicks get…um…the dude I guess.

The Biathlon consists of 10 separate events and the scoring is based on both time and accuracy. The objective is to complete the course in the least amount of time, while hitting targets. If you don’t hit the targets you get penalized time. That sucks.



Events

Men’s 4 x 7.5 km Relay
Women’s 4x6 km Relay
Men’s 10 km Sprint
Women’s 7.5 km Sprint
Men’s 12.5 km Pursuit
Women’s 10 km Pursuit
Men’s 15 km Mass Start
Women’s 12.5 km Mass Start
Men’s 20 km Individual
Women’s 15 km Individual


Overview


When the athletes ski into the shooting range, they must put down their ski poles and take five shots at a metal target located 50 metres away. Each target has five plates, fixed in a straight row, which the athlete must hit. The hit area size changes depending on whether the athlete is shooting in a prone or standing position. When in a prone position, the hit area is the size of a golf ball (45 mm); standing, it’s the size of a large grapefruit (115 mm). A top athlete usually takes 20 to 25 seconds to aim and shoot five bullets. Missing a target plate can be costly: depending on the event, a missed shot means either one minute of added time or skiing a 150-metre penalty loop.

In the individual start of the Biathlon is a 20 km (men) and 15 km (women) race and every 30 seconds a new competitor starts and hey ski around a loop five times. Every loop the competitors stop four times to take shots at targets. Fastest time wins.

The sprint is a lot like the individual where the racers will go around a smaller circle (7.5 total km women and 10 km total for men) as they will stop twice around each circle (three times) and shoot five times at each stop. If shooters miss a shot they have to ski a loop around a 150-metre penalty loop, the penalty box of the sport.

The Pursuit pits the top 60 finishers of the sprint event. The best part about this race is that starting times of the competitors are based on the finishing times in the sprint race. The first place finisher of the sprint race starts and then the following competitors start on an interval based on their times they finished behind the winner of the sprint race. The women race 10 km (4 laps of 2 km) and the men race a 20km (4 laps of 2 km) and you stop four times to shoot five shots a lap. A loss is a lap around a 150 metre loop. Solid race

The relay portion of the Biathlon is just as it reads, a relay. Each team (four person) skis a leg (7.5 km for men, 6 km for women) and when he/she finishes their portion they physically tag the next person, kinda like third grade recess. Each racer skis three legs and must stop twice at a shooting range and instead of five shots each athlete gets an extra three bullets. Each miss includes the mandatory lap like the other races.

Mass start is the final and this includes the 30 best ranked racers who all start at the same time and must all stop four times and take five shots each time. A missed shot is the lap and if you are lapped in this event then you are automatically DQ’ed

In 2006 the Germans took home five Gold metals, four Silver and two Bronze for a total of 11, which led all nations. Norway took six medals (0,3,3) and Russia took home five (2,1,2).


U.S. hopefuls

The U.S. team is not a power house in the Biathlon but this year might be a year that they have a shot at getting some pub. Jay Hakkinen has been the main man for U.S. Biathalon for as long as some people can remember. The other members of team USA are Tim Burke, Jeremy Teela, Lowell Bailey and Wynn Roberts.

Burke is another top guy for the U.S. as became the first biathlete to wear the prestigious "yellow bib" as the World Cup leader after his second-place finish at the mass start race in Germany.


Contenders

Norway is going to take a good chance of taking home a lot of metals. Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen and Ole Einar Bjordalen are gonna be real good and will defiantly take home some medals in the Biathlon. What a group of names.

On the women’s side Helena Jonsson from Sweden will be a tough draw for anyone and Andrea Henkel from Germany is going to be a good bet to win some medals.


Predictions

Three Rivers Burgh Blog – Svendsen and Jonsson. I am not picking winners for every event. That would take a ton of research and I really don’t know a whole lot about the sport. Although my knowledge is limited I would defiantly go to your bookie with my picks for this one. Right?

The Steelers n’at
A comedian once called this event a Norwegian Drive-by. I can't remember who it was, but I'm still going to take someone from Norway to win.

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