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||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||grades 4 to 5
||Flesch-Kincaid grade level:
||most-watched, based, biathlon, equipment, cross-country, skier, shots, poles, races, patrol, among, order, length, sport, prone, against
||Mass Start, United States, Among Europeans, Winter Olympics
French: Le Biathlon
Italian: Il Biathlon
By Phyllis Naegeli
1 The biathlon blends the sport of cross-country skiing with shooting. The athletes have basic equipment. Skis and poles move them along the course. A .22 long rifle is carried on their back. Each skier moves from one target to another. He or she gets into position to shoot. Sometimes they stand. At other places, they lie down. There are five events in the sport. Each one varies by length, start, and penalty.
2 Four races have the same penalty. For a missed target, the skier does a 150-meter penalty loop. The sprint is a 10-kilometer race for men. Women do a 7.5-kilometer race. In this race, athletes start twenty to thirty seconds apart. They ski to the targets. At one, they shoot standing. At the other, they shoot prone. They get five shots at each location. In the pursuit, the athletes start based on their finishing place in a sprint. They shoot two times standing and two times lying down. Women travel 10 kilometers. Men go 12.5 kilometers. In the mass start, all racers start together. Men travel 15 kilometers. Women race for 12.5 kilometers. They shoot four times. Two shots are done standing and two prone. The relay is a four-biathlete race. Each skier in the men's relay races 7.5 kilometers. Each skier in the women's relay races 6 kilometers. They shoot four times. The first leg racers start together. They complete their course. Then they tag the next skier in the race. In each race, the first one to cross the finish line wins.
3 One race uses a time penalty. It is usually one minute added to the finish time for each target missed. The individual race begins the same as the sprint. This is the oldest race in the event. Men travel 20 kilometers. Women go fifteen. They shoot four times. Five shots are taken at twenty targets on the course. The positions go in order - lying, standing, lying, standing.
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