Medal events: 11
Dates: 8–22 February
(Copyright: IOC, Getty Images, Kishimoto)
Biathlon – which combines the endurance of long distance cross-country skiing with the precision of target shooting – debuted on the Olympic programme at the 1960 Winter Games in Squaw Valley, when the only event was the men's 20km individual race. The men's 4x7.5 km relay was added in 1968, while the 10km sprint debuted in 1980, before women’s events were first held in Albertville in 1992. Pursuit and mass start events joined the programme in 2002 and Turin 2006 respectively, while Sochi 2014 will see the mixed relay making its Olympic debut, bringing the total number of events to 11. The mixed relay will comprise teams of two men and two women. The women will open the relay, completing the first two legs – each 6km with two rounds of shooting. The men then complete the third and fourth legs, which are 7.5km.
Athletes to watch in Sochi
Reigning women’s 15km individual Olympic champion Tora Berger, of Norway, will be eyeing more gold in Sochi, having claimed a clean sweep of the overall, sprint, pursuit, individual and mass start World Cup titles in 2013. She is likely to be challenged by Czech Republic’s Gabriela Soukalová, who has started the 2013/14 season in impressive fashion.
In the men’s events, France’s Martin Fourcade will be among the medal favourites, having matched Berger’s feat of winning the overall, sprint, pursuit, individual and mass start World Cup titles in 2013. He will face stiff competition, however, from Norwegian duo Emil Hegle Svendsen – who won three gold medals in Vancouver – and 20-year-old Johannes Bø.
The most successful female biathlete in Olympic history is Germany’s Uschi Disl, who won nine Olympic medals, including two golds, four silvers and three bronzes. Germany’s Kati Wilhelm, meanwhile, has more Olympic biathlon gold medals than any other woman, having won three Olympic titles, as well as three silvers and one bronze.
Watch the best moments from the Women's Biathlon Relay at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games