One sport that seems to confuse people more than others at the Winter Olympics is biathlon, which is cross country skiing combined with rifle shooting.
While the inclusion of guns in the Olympics may seem like a weird mix, there is actually a perfectly logical explanation.
The sport has its roots in hunting techniques that have been used Scandinavian countries for centuries. Hunters would often take to skis with rifles mounted on their backs to find prey.
These strategies were later used by the Swedish and Norwegian militaries. In fact, the first recorded biathlon competition occurred in the 18th century between the militaries of Sweden and Norway.
The sport involves skiing long distances with occasional stops to shoot at targets. If a competitor misses a target, they are then required to ski a 150-meter penalty loop.
As you can imagine, it can be quite difficult to hold a rifle steady after travelling long distances on skis. This is a skill that would have been highly sought after in both hunting and the military for northern European nations and easily transferred to athletic competition.
Biathlon was first contested at the 1924 Winter Olympics in France.
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