I spent yesterday in the secure area where I checked in the biathlon equipment for the teams from Finland, GB, Germany, Italy, and USA. It is very interesting to see first hand how the biathletes check over their equipment, ensuring everything is in good working order, a few required some small repairs.
In the same area where the equipment is stored there is a practice area to allow the biathletes to train. It was fascinating to watch them in action. They would pin two small pieces of paper, with five/six small dots drawn on it, to the board/wall at eye-sight level when standing and lying down on the floor.
They would then go through a routine while standing that involved putting their rifle on their back and whipping it back off again and aim at the dots on the piece of paper. They would do this for a good while before doing the same thing while lying down on the floor One thing I noticed in particular was time and effort the athletes put into the technique of removing the rifle from the carry position on their backs, and then putting it back on again. They are so supple that the entire procedure was over in a few seconds. This is when the cross-country ski and they come to the target zone they have to be able to get the rifle off their back and into the shooting position as quick as possible. Once they have completed the target phase the rifle is quickly put on their back and they continue with the cross-country skiing. Like most sports, timing is everything.
One athlete told me that they concentrate a lot on their breathing, obviously crucial when they are cross-country skiing but also during the shooting phase, where they focus on their breathing and heart-beat.
I watched one athlete stand like a statue for about 10 minutes, just holding her rifle in position (not shown in photos). She never flinched, even with all the noise going on round about her. After a while she would rest for a few moments before doing it over and over again. She must have stood in the same position for over 40 minutes.
One last thing, I was most impressed the USA team’s clothing. They are wearing Ralph Lauren and they look extremely smart in the red, white and blue outfits. I can’t wait to see what they are wearing in the Opening Ceremony on Friday.
(I am happy to be corrected on anything I have written on the biathlon)