BY: ALEX VILLANEDA
The individual Men’s 20Km Biathlon seems like such a ridiculous event when you first hear about it. Competitors have to strap a rifle on their back and alternate between skiing and shooting. It doesn’t seem like a real thing, but it is and it not only tests physical endurance, but it is mentally taxing as well.
Competitors have to do five laps of a four-kilometer course. In between each lap, they take five shots at targets 50 meters away. Each round of shooting is also different as they must alternate between shooting from the prone position and a standing position.
Each missed shot costs an athlete a one-minute penalty, and with completion this fierce at the Olympics, one missed shot can be the difference between winning a medal and placing tenth. This places immense pressure on athletes, especially in the later rounds when fatigue begins to set in.
Lithuanian Tomas Kaukenas blew a big lead for the gold medal when, in his last round of shooting, he missed three targets, dropping him from medal contention to 23rd place.
Austrian Simon Eder just missed out on a bronze medal. After finishing his final shooting round ten seconds ahead of Russian Evgeniy Garanichev, he fell behind on his last lap, finishing three seconds behind Garanichev.
Heavily Favored Frenchman Martin Fourcade grabbed the gold with a time of 49:31.7. Fourcade avoided disaster early on in the race when he nearly lost his balance taking a tight turn but was able to hold on and stay up.
For the U.S, Lowell Bailey managed to place the highest in U.S history for the Biathalon. He finished 8th with a time of 50:57.4
The Biathalon has been a part of the Olympics officially since 1960. There is also a version for the summer Olympics where participants compete while running instead of skiing.