With the February 3rd state of the 1972 Winter Olympics in Japan approaching, teams preparing for the gruelling biathlon event have been practicing at the Makomanai course in Sapporo.
With the February 3rd state of the 1972 Winter Olympics in Japan approaching, teams preparing for the gruelling biathlon event have been practicing at the Makomanai course in Sapporo. Among the teams at work on the course on Monday (24 January), were the Italians, the East Germans and that of the Japanese Self-Defence Forces. They're practicing on an 8-mile (12.5 Kms) course with 48 targets spaced at intervals of about 8 feet (2.5 metres).
The biathlon is one of the most difficult of all winter sporting events because it involves not only the hard grind of a cross-country ski run, but also the expert marksmanship of the firing range.
SYNOPSIS: Teams have been practicing in Sapporo for their parts in the Winter Olympics as the opening on February third approaches. Here, at the Makomanai course, they're preparing for what's said to be one of the toughest winter events of all--the biathlon. The Japanese Self-Defence Forces are among the teams represented in the cross-country events. The course they're working on is about eight miles long.
The biathlon is considered a gruelling sport because participants must not only ski over a set course, but they've also got to shoot at a series of targets. On the practice course, there're forty-eight targets, each spaced about eight feet apart. Competitors are scored for time along the course and the accuracy of their shooting. As if that's not enough, the participants all carry a pack of a set weight on their backs. The Olympic organisers have laid on full facilities for spectators at the course.
The east Germans are one of the countries to be represented in the event, as are the British and the Italians. The event originated in Scandinavia, possibly as a legacy from earlier times when skis were the only form of transport and men had to defend themselves on the move. Whatever the reason, other countries have found it difficult to break the northern domination of the event--but they're ready to try.