The U.S. has never won an Olympic medal of any color in biathlon, which means it gets virtually no coverage on American TV during the Games. Yet watch the competition on one of the European channels or attend a live competition in a place such as Oberhof, Germany, and you see how exciting and difficult it can be. You're gasping and coughing at the very moment your heart rate needs to be still, so you can pull into the range and still shoot straight.
Since the women's relay was introduced at the '84 Worlds, either Russians/Soviets or Germans have won 18 of 20 gold medals awarded, often with one vanquishing the other on the final leg. Last year, the Russians won the competition by a minute, shooting a clean round, as the German women missed three times and finished with silver. Of the five races contested, each team won twice. Germany's
Shooters can hear the dinks when targets are hit or the deafening silence when targets are missed. Since crowds can usually watch on a monitor, there are accompanying roars and groans after each shot. Shooters not only have to contend with these reactions to their shots, but also with those for the shooters next to them. Skiers who miss shots then ski penalty loops for each of the misses. The U.S. team often has athletes with military backgrounds on its squad. The first known biathlon race in the form we know today was held by the Norwegian military in 1912.