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What you need to know about the biathlon events in Sochi

Published February 15. 2014 09:00AM

The biathlon's military origins help explain why countries such as Russia, Norway and Sweden are still dominant in the sport.

It was France's Martin Fourcade who won gold and Jean Guillaume Beatrix who earned bronze in the 12.5-kilometer pursuit at the Sochi Olympics.

On the women's side, Darya Domracheva of Belarus earned her second gold medal of the Sochi Olympics on Friday by winning the women's 15-kilometer individual race.

Domracheva, who also won the 12.5K pursuit earlier in the week, missed one target before finishing in 43 minutes, 19.6 seconds.

An interesting story on the American team is the journey Lanny Barnes took to Sochi.

Lanny failed to make the American team for Sochi after she fell ill last month and was unable to compete in the qualifying events.

But she was given a second chance when twin sister Tracy, who made the team one spot ahead of Lanny, pulled out to let her sister go in her place.

The two sisters, who hail from Colorado, competed together at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, but only Lanny made the U.S. team for Vancouver in 2010.

The biathlon has one of the busiest programs in this year's Winter Olympic Games, with four individual events for both men and women, along with a relay. New for this year is a mixed relay.

While each event offers some variety for the competitors, there are still similarities across all disciplines.

The individual competition is the oldest event, and for a number of years was the only discipline in the sport.

The men's and women's sprint will be the opening event in Sochi, and is essentially a shortened version of the individual race.

With 60 athletes per gender competing in the pursuit, the starting order is based on the results of the sprint competition. The winner of the sprint competition starts first with the remaining competitors following in the order and time they finished the sprint competition.

The relay event consists of four biathletes per country, with each member in the men's event skiing a lap of 7.5 kilometers and the women six kilometers. The team whose final skier is the first to cross the finish line, subject to penalties or rules violations, is the winner.

In the mixed relay, each country will have two men and two women on their respective teams. The women race at a distance of six kilometers, the men 7.5k.

The total number of competitors participating in the mass start is 30 per gender, with all starting simultaneously. The first competitor to cross the finish line is the winner. If the competitors are lapped by the competition, the must withdraw from the final shooting.

The events will take place from Feb. 8 to the 22 at the "Laura" complex, which is used for cross country skiing and the biathlon. It is located at the Krasnaya Polyana resort, just outside of Sochi. The venue opened in December 2011 and a portion of the cross-country skiing World Cup was held there in January 2013.

The complex consists of two separate stadiums, each with their own start and finish. There are two separate tracks for cross country skiing and the biathlon, with the latter having its own shooting and warp-up zones. The stands can hold 7,500 spectators, and there are two cable car stations that can transport 6,000 spectators per hour.

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