By Jay Bender

Perhaps you’ve been ski racing for a number of years. Maybe you’d like to start racing. It’s fun, it’s challenging and it’s something that can motivate you to get out skiing.

You can figure out your training regimen, work on your technique and yet, despite all that, you know about where you’ll be on the result list. Race after race, the same general bunch of genetically gifted athletes are up there at the top. Maybe you’re even one of them, but doesn’t it almost seem a little cut and dried sometimes? Sure, the order changes slightly here and there but nobody is coming out of 15th place, from two minutes back, and winning it all. And no one is moving from way back in the 30s up to a top-10 finish in the final lap.

Well, there is a sport that can inject that kind of dark horse, come-from-behind excitement into your racing: biathlon. Adding an element the faster skiers aren’t automatically better at levels the playing field.

If you can out-shoot another competitor on the rifle range, you can gain a lot of time while they are skiing around in circles on the penalty loop! Of course, biathlon is primarily a ski race and ski speed definitely counts. But the element of target shooting can really make it interesting, changing who’s in the lead multiple times during the course of a race. That’s one reason biathlon is so exciting to watch, and why it is the most watched televised winter sport in Europe. Biathlon is as big over there as NASCAR is in the U.S. And it’s partly because there’s more to it than the same fast skiers being in the lead from start to finish.