(Since I don’t shoot very many winter weddings, I thought I’d post a few fun photos from what I do shoot over the winter!)
Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to attend the Biathlon World Cup pursuit races in Presque Isle, Maine. Biathlon is such a fun sport to watch, and it is virtually unknown here in the US. It is very popular in Norway, and when I lived there I learned a lot about it. Biathlon combines cross country skiing and shooting. I’ve pasted an explanation of the pursuit race below:
In a pursuit, biathletes’ starts are separated by their time differences from a previous race, most commonly a sprint (in Presque Isle the sprint was held on Friday). The distance is 12.5 kilometres (7.8 mi) for men and 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) for women, skied over five laps; there are four shooting bouts (two prone, two standing, in that order), and each miss means a penalty loop of 150 m. World Cup Pursuits are held with only the 60 top ranking biathletes after the preceding race.
Because of the penalty laps charged for missed shots (and it was a windy day, so there were lots of missed shots) the lead changes very frequently! It really is exciting. The most difficult skill for the biathlete is learning to control their breathing in order to shoot accurately. The racers need to go from skiing as fast as possible around the course to accurately hitting a tiny target at 50 m. The racers carry a .22 bolt-action rifle, which weighs at least 3.5 kilograms (7.7 lb), including ammunition in magazines on their back during the race.
The two events in Maine (the second event is next weekend in Fort Kent) and the only two biathlon World Cup events being held in the US this year.
The women’s race was won by Norwegian Tora Berger, and the leading the men was Alexis Boeuf of France.