Paralympic Biathlon

VIDEO: The Paralympic 2010 Winter Olympic Games are well underway and March 13 and 17 are the days to watch for the Biathlon medal events.

Biathlon or Nordic skiing first became an Olympic event in 1988 in Innsbruck, Austria. Skiers start at 30-second intervals and compete against other athletes in their class – standing, sitting or visually impaired. For visually impaired skiers, the cross country part of the event is led by a guide and they communicate with each other by Bluetooth technology. The guides also receive a medal and need to be 15% faster than the athletes themselves.

There are two kinds of events in Biathlon — short distance and long distance. For the short distance biathlon, skiers race around a 2.5 km loop three times, stopping to shoot twice. They get five shots at a metal target placed at a 10-meter distance. For a lot of these visually impaired athletes, hitting a target 10 m away at a bull’s eye that is only 15 mm in diameter might seem impossible, but acoustic technology allows them to recognize different tones alerting them when to shoot. For each missed shot, there’s a 150-meter penalty loop, something like a walk of shame.

For the long distance biathlon, skiers race around a 2.5 km loop five times, stopping to shoot four times. For every missed shot, there’s a one-minute time penalty. Paralympic athletes train just as hard as able-bodied athletes and pay their dues in the gym, paying particular attention to high performance sports nutrition and refueling the body with essential nutrients and supplements.

Originally published @ FITLODE.COM

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