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Mass start, single, pursuit, relay, reloader, penalty round – you can get confused. An overview of the competitions at the Biathlon World Championships. Medals will be awarded in a total of eleven competitions. But each discipline has its own rules. Shots are fired twice, then again four times. In one competition you have to go to the penalty round for a miss, in the other there is one minute on top.


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An overview of the various competitions at the Biathlon World Championships

Mixed Relay

The Mixed Relay is the first competition at this year’s World Championship and will be held on 9 February. Each nation may provide one team. A team consists of two women and two men. While each woman covers a total of six kilometres, the men run 7.5 kilometres. The race is started by the women. The women of all nations will start at the same time. After two kilometres the first shooting unit is due, first lying down. After another two kilometres it is the turn of the standing exercise. The same rules apply as in the “normal” relay. This means that three spare cartridges are available for the five discs in addition to the usual cartridges. If there are still slices left, one penalty round of 150 metres must be run per slice. After the first woman follows the second, afterwards the men go into the race.

Sprint race

On Friday, 10 February, the women’s sprint race is scheduled for the 2017 Biathlon World Championships. One day later the men will make their appearance. The sprint is the best chance for athletes with weaker shooting performances to intervene in the medal fight. The men’s race is over ten kilometres long, with women covering a total of 7.5 kilometres. The start will take place at intervals of 30 seconds. After the first lap the shooting will be lying, after the second lap the shooting will be standing, the last lap will lead to the finish. Each miss leads directly to the 150-meter penalty lap, which means a loss of time of around 23 seconds.


On Sunday, 11 February, both women and men will be competing in the pursuit races of the World Cup. The best 60 athletes of the sprint competition will be allowed to compete. First of all, the winner of each sprint will go to the cross-country ski run. The other biathletes follow according to the distance they have negotiated in the sprint. Means: Whoever crossed the finish line one minute after the winner, goes into the cross-country ski run one minute after him. The men run a total of 12.5 kilometres, the women ten kilometres. The first two are lying and the following two are standing. Each miss is equivalent to a penalty round of 150 metres. Whoever finishes first wins. Schedule, competitions and live streams of the Biathlon World Championship

Single race

The single is the original form of the biathlon. At the World Championships in Hochfilzen, the women’s singles race will be held on Wednesday, 15 February. The men compete one day later. While the women complete a total of 15 kilometres, the men complete 20 kilometres. Each athlete has to go to the shooting range four times. The shooting units are carried out alternately (lying, standing, lying, standing). Unlike the other forms of competition, there is no penalty round for missed shots. Each mistake automatically adds one minute to the time. This means that even worse runners tend to have a chance of a front place if they get through the competition without a shooting error. The start will take place at intervals of 30 seconds.


On Friday, 17 February, the women’s relay for the 2017 Biathlon World Championships is on the programme. One day later the men’s relay will take place. Each nation may have one team. Each team consists of four athletes. The women run 4×6 kilometres, the men 4×7.5 kilometres. The starting runners go into the cross-country ski run together. Each athlete has to lie down once and shoot standing once, the first one being standing shooting. Each athlete has eight cartridges available per shooting unit. This means that a maximum of three reloaders per unit is possible. If there are still targets, a 150-meter penalty round must be run for each target not hit. In the 40 metre long transition zone, the change takes place by a simple body contact.

Mass start

At the end of the World Cup in Hochfilzen on Sunday, 19 February, the mass start races for women and men are scheduled. The women’s race is over 12.5 kilometres, the men’s over 15 kilometres. 30 athletes are entitled to start. These are made up as follows: The 15 best of the overall World Cup plus the maximum of nine medal winners from sprint, singles and pursuit (if they are not already among the top 15 of the World Cup). The rest will be filled with the best athletes of the World Championships (measured by their World Cup points). The 30 athletes will go together into the cross-country ski run. There are a total of four shootings on the programme, the first two lying down, followed by two standing. Each miss is immediately punished with a penalty round.

A small rule customer: The disc diameter with the lying shooting is 4.5 centimeters, with the standing shooting 11.5 centimeters. The targets are black. When the target is hit, a white lid folds over the target. The distance to the targets is 50 meters for all shooting units.

Biathlon – trend sport in Sweden and beyond

Biathlon is fascinating and is today a very popular television sport. This is also reflected in the number of spectators – biathlon is enormously popular in Germany. On average, between 5 and 6 million Germans watch the biathlon races on the winter weekends. Names like Laura Dahlmeier have long been familiar to Germans – with 180,000 followers on Facebook and 150,000 on Instagram, the sportswoman is now a real influencer.

After a period of crisis, her success in Swedish biathlon has returned. A German is jointly responsible for this: the successful coach Wolfgang Pichler helped the young Swedish team back to the top with goal-oriented guidance. This was rewarded with gold for the men’s relay, gold for Hanna Öberg in the normal distance and silver for Sebastian Samuelsson in the normal distance. The sporting successes were accompanied by an economic upturn for the Swedish Biathlon Federation.

Biathlon capital Östersund

Another important economic aspect of the sport are the big events, such as the Biathlon World Championship, which Östersund is staging this year. Östersund is regarded as Sweden’s “biathlon capital”. This is where the Swedish federation is based and where the entire Swedish team lives and trains. The federation and the municipality have invested heavily in perfect conditions. The biathlon arena is only a 15-minute walk from the city centre, with well-prepared and illuminated cross-country trails. This year’s World Cup alone is expected to have a whole series of positive effects for the region: the event makes economic sense for the city of 45,000 inhabitants: 120,000 visiting days are expected at the World Cup in Östersund. And these visitors want to live, eat and shop. According to estimates, the visitors will spend at least 15 million euros during the World Cup.

In addition, such events also function as a perfect advertising medium. Millions of Germans know the otherwise rather unknown Östersund because of the annual broadcasts of biathlon events. This year’s World Cup is potentially seen on television by around 500 million people worldwide. This awareness also means that Östersund can boast additional tourism all year round. The pictures of nature, culture and sport, which are shown again and again, show the region from its best side. Numerous foreign tourists stated in an investigation that they became attentive by a Biathlon transmission to Östersund.

Is the future of German biathlon in the Ruhr area?

The Swedish Biathlon Association is pleased that, in addition to the successful top athletes, biathlon is also developing into a trend sport. The sport is growing strongly all over Sweden, interestingly enough most strongly in the south of the country, where there is relatively little snow. The ever better roller skis help here. The sport is more popular among young people than classic cross-country skiing because it offers more variety.

General Secretary of the Swedish Biathlon Federation Ingemar Arwidson is enthusiastic: “We have been seeing this positive trend for several years now. I dare say that this is a result of our conscious work with renewal and change. It will be interesting for the future of biathlon in Germany whether these trends from Sweden can also be transferred here. Who knows, maybe the future for the German biathlon lies in the Ruhr area or in Hamburg instead of in Ruhpolding or Oberhof.