- 25 Feb 2006
- Olympic News
A First for Biathlon and a Third Gold Medal for Michael Greis
The first biathlon mass start in Olympic history saw victory for Germany’s Michael Greis and Sweden’s Anna Carin Olofsson
Third gold medal for Michael Greis
After having won the first biathlon gold medal (individual), Germany’s Michael Greis picked up the gold medal in the last event, the mass start. At 29, Michael Greis has thus won his third gold medal in Turin, as, along with his team mates Ricco Gross, Michael Roesch and Sven Fischer, he is also the Olympic champion in the 4x7.5km relay. In this first mass start in Olympic history, Michael Greis finished ahead of Tomasz Sikora, who became silver medallist on Poland’s biathlon history. In third place was Norway’s Ole Einar Björndalen, who will leave Turin with one bronze medal and two silver.
A Swedish first
For the women, it was Sweden’s Anna Carin Olofsson who was first past the finish line. After coming second place in the 7.5km sprint, Olofsson today reached the highest step on the Olympic podium in the mass start. It is the first gold medal for Sweden in the women’s biathlon. Germany’s Kati Wilhelm finished second in front of her compatriot Uschi Disl. After winning gold in the 10km pursuit and silver in the 4 x 6km relay, Kati Wilhelm ends with a great performance at these Games in Turin.
The rules of mass start
On the course at Cesana San Sicario, 30 male competitors lined up for the start of the 15km at 10:00. Two hours later, it was the turn of their 30 female counterparts to set off on a course of 12.5km. Medallists in the sprint, pursuit and individual races were also among the competitors. Besides the cross country skiing, two shooting sessions lying down and two standing up, athletes can expect a penalty of 150m for missing a target. The first to arrive is the winner.
Biathlon at the Games
A demonstration sport at the Winter Games of 1924, 1928, 1936 and 1948, biathlon debuted in 1960 in Squaw Valley with eight nations and 30 competitors in only one discipline. Today there are currently 57 national federations from four continents affiliated to the International Biathlon Union (IBU). Women first competed in biathlon at the Olympic Winter Games in Albertville in 1992.
In Turin, 215 biathletes (111 men, 104 women) representing 37 nations took part in 10 races. Men and women participated in the sprint, pursuit, individual and relay (the women’s relay was reduced from 4 x 7.5km to 4 x 6km). And now, for the first time, two mass start races.
Six new events on the programme of the 2006 Olympic Games
Besides the biathlon mass start, the team pursuit in speed skating and snowboard cross for both men and women have been added as new events to the programme of the 2006 Winter Games.