Biathlon at PyeongChang 2018

Venue: Alpensia Biathlon Centre

Competition Dates: February 10-12, 14-15, 17-18, 20, 22-23 (Days 1-3, 5-6, 8-9, 11, 13-14)

Events: 11 (5 men, 5 women, 1 mixed)

Incorporating cross-country skiing and rifle shooting, there are eleven biathlon events on the Olympic program which can be divided into six categories:

Individual (men – 20km; women – 15km)
Sprint (men – 10km; women – 7.5km)
Pursuit (men – 12.5km; women – 10km)
Mass start (men – 15km; women – 12.5km)
Relay (men – 4×7.5km; women – 4x6km)
Mixed relay (2 women x 6km + 2 men x 7.5km)

The individual event consists of five laps of a 4km loop for men and a 3km loop for women. After each of the first four laps, competitors stop and shoot at five targets, alternating between prone and standing positions, for a total of 20 targets. For each missed target, a one-minute penalty is added. Because they start in 30 second intervals, the winner is the biathlete with the fastest time after the shooting penalties have been factored in.

Canada's Nathan Smith shoots at the men's Individual 20 km competition at the Biathlon World Cup in Ruhpolding, Germany, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

The sprint event also includes a staggered start, so again the fastest time determines the winner. The men ski three laps of 3.3km while the women ski three laps of 2.5km. Biathletes stop twice to shoot at five targets (first in prone and the second in standing position). For every missed shot, they must ski a 150m penalty loop as the clock continues to run.

Ole Einar Bjorndalen

The top 60 biathletes from the sprint compete in the pursuit. Starting in order of their sprint finish, they are essentially pursuing the sprint gold medallist, meaning the first to cross the finish line is the winner. The event consists of five laps of a 2.5km loop for men and a 2km loop for women, separated by four shooting rounds, the first two in prone position and the last two in standing position. For every missed shot, the biathletes must ski a 150m penalty loop.

Sochi Olympics Biathlon Men

There are just 30 entries in the mass start events to match the number of positions in the shooting range. Those will include the top 15 in the World Cup standings and the Olympic medal winners in the individual, sprint and pursuit events. There are five laps of a 3km loop for men and a 2.5km loop for women with four shooting rounds, the first two in prone position and the last two in standing position. The punishment for missed shots is to ski the 150m penalty loop. The first competitor to cross the finish line is the winner.

Each of the four biathletes on a relay team complete two rounds of shooting (first prone, then standing) separated by three laps of a 2.5km loop for men and a 2km loop for women. The first biathletes for each team start simultaneously and after finishing their leg must tag the next team member to go out. The first team to have its final member cross the finish line is the winner. Each biathlete carries three spare rounds of ammunition which must be loaded individually by hand if any target is not hit with the first five shots. Any remaining missed targets result in having to ski the 150m penalty loop.

Biathlon 4x7.5km Relay

Mixed relay teams are composed of two women and two men, who start in that order. Each does two rounds of shooting, the first in prone and the second in standing position, between three laps of a 2km loop for women and a 2.5km loop for men. There is a simultaneous start for the first biathletes on each team, who then tag the next team member upon completion of their leg. The first team to have its final biathlete cross the finish line is the winner.

Nathan Smith in action during single mixed relay at the Biathlon World Cup in Ostersund, Sweden, on Nov. 29, 2015. (Marie Birkl / TT via AP)

The size of the target depends on the shooting position of the athlete. In prone position, the hit area is 45mm while in standing position it is 115mm. In all cases the target is at a distance of 50 metres.

Canadian History (pre-PyeongChang 2018)

All three of Canada’s Olympic biathlon medals have been won by Myriam Bédard. The first came in the debut of women’s biathlon at Albertville 1992 when she took bronze in the 15km individual event. Two years later at Lillehammer 1994 she was a double medallist, winning gold in the 15km individual and 7.5km sprint.

Bedard, Myriam

The Canadian team achieved a number of best ever performances at Sochi 2014, most notably Jean-Philippe Le Guellec’s fifth place finish in the men’s 10km sprint. Brendan Green added a ninth place finish in the 15km mass start. They joined with teammates Nathan Smith and Scott Perras to place seventh in the 4×7.5km relay. The women’s 4x6km relay team of Rosanna Crawford, Megan Imrie, Zina Kocher and Megan Heinicke finished an impressive eighth.