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I ended up doing a wikipedia-dive, so according to wikipedia biathlon is from norwegian competitions in the 19th century:

According to Encyclopædia Britannica, the biathlon "is rooted in the skiing traditions of Scandinavia, where early inhabitants revered the Norse god Ullr as both the ski god and the hunting god." In modern times, the activity that developed into this sport was an exercise for Norwegians as alternative training for the military. Norwegian skiing regiments organized military skiing contests in the 18th century, divided into four classes: shooting at mark while skiing at top speed, downhill race among trees, downhill race on big hills without falling, and a long race on flat ground while carrying a rifle and military pack. In modern terminology, these military contests included downhill, slalom, biathlon, and cross-country skiing.[1] One of the world's first known ski clubs, Trysil Skytte- og Skiløberforening (the Trysil Rifle and Ski Club), was formed in Norway in 1861 to promote national defense at the local level. 20th century variants include Forsvarsrennet (the military contest) - a 17 km cross-country race with shooting, and the military cross-country race at 30 km including marksmanship.

If I remember correctly, Norway didn't have a military during the union - or rather it had Sweden's. So this was the typical 19th century dressing up of militia training. And considering the terrain between Sweden and Norway, and contemporay military technology, skiing and then firing was probably a relevant skill for fighting the Swedish overlords. Fortunately the union was peacefully dissolved in 1905.

by fjallstrom on Thu Feb 17th, 2022 at 04:38:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not really my area of any expertise, but I do recall Norwegians selecting the Krag-Jorgensen rifle when Sweden went with much better Mauser, only because both Krag and Jorgensen were Norwegian officers.

So they must have had something to arm with them rifles in the 1890 or so.

by pelgus on Thu Feb 17th, 2022 at 04:54:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, I didn't remember correctly there (or remembered incorrect information). From somewhere I remembered that during the union Sweden and Norway was in theory equal, but Sweden had the military, prisons and foreign policy. Probably a simplification for the students, but then again it those you actually remember :)

There was a Norwegian military during the union, though a small one until 1885, after that there was general male conscription. All according to Norwegian wikipedia.

by fjallstrom on Fri Feb 18th, 2022 at 08:57:30 AM EST
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Aspects of the Union between Sweden and Norway (1814-1905)
| By Jan Normann Knutsen |

The way he waged the war: defensively, retreating to avoid major battles, demaged his reputation at that time and in the eyes of several subsequent Norwegian historians; while others have pointed to the fact that a union with Sweden was inevitable under the circumstances and that the conditions for peace were in all probability, the best that could be achieved.

Treaty of Kiel

After Napoleon's defeat at the Battle of Leipzig (1813), Sweden repeated its 17th-century strategy by attacking Denmark from the south. With the Treaty of Kiel (January 14, 1814), Denmark gave up all its rights to Norway to the king of Sweden. It did not, however, relinquish its rights to the old Norwegian dependencies of Iceland, the Faroes, and Greenland, as England strongly opposed any buildup of Swedish power in the North Atlantic.



'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Fri Feb 18th, 2022 at 01:55:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ole Einar Bjørndalen - most Olympic medals Winter games

Biathlon at the 1964 Winter Olympics consisted of one biathlon event - 14 nations / 51 participants

A miss was a 2 min time penalty ... target scorecards were checked manually 😖 ..

The best speed at a distance (1:19:37.9) was shown by the famous three-time Olympic champion in cross-country skiing, 39-year-old Finn Veikko Hakulinen, however, 6 misses threw the oldest participant in the race to 15th place.

Privalov was credited with 1 miss, and he remained in third place after the Norwegian Olav Jordet, but after manually checking the targets (there were no mechanical targets then), Privalov was credited with a hit and he rose to second place.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Thu Feb 17th, 2022 at 06:57:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Biathlon's genesis in pre-Revolutionary Russia and independent Finland

The roots of biathlon evolved in the  Norwegian army (1811) during the eighteenth century but the sport's more immediate genesis stems from an obscure ski manual prepared for the Russian military in 1912.

The author of this book, Skis in the Art of War, was K. B. E. E. Eimeleus, a Finnish-born junior officer serving in the Russian Imperial Cavalry. Due to the disastrous consequences of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, an ill-advised conflict provoked by Russia in a northern climate along the empire's far-eastern border, it was apparent that in future warfare, the Russian army would have to fight again under similar winter conditions.



'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Thu Feb 17th, 2022 at 07:02:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They mean C.B.E. Aejmelaeus, or  К.Э. Эймелеус in Russian. He was not mere junior officer, but gymnastics teacher at Nikolaevsky cavalry school and participated in modern pentathlon in Stockholm Olympics. Later he was the adjutant of the first president of Finland.

Having myself had the questionable honor of being trained in winter warfare back in the 80's, I'd be prone to say that biathlon has very little to do with the military uses of skiing. The main purpose is high mobility of the troops, but just like dragoons, when the shooting starts, the means of transport are put away and you fight like normal infantry.

The most hated thing during skiing was taking cover, be it imagined incoming or enemy airplane, because it meant emptying the track fastest possible way while getting entangled with your skis, poles and weapon and then disentangling yourself while trying to get up one ski that way and the other this way. Repeat 4 or 5 times and you just don't want to get up anymore, even if the snow has gotten under your jacket and into your sleeves. Oddly enough, for many the army is the last time they do any cross-country skiing :-)

by pelgus on Thu Feb 17th, 2022 at 10:52:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The 1st Biathlon World Championships were held in 1958 in Saalfelden, Austria

Could only find a report in Russian language.

The USSR national team with an hour of penalties won silver at the first World Cup

The biathlon competition rules, very close to modern ones, were approved in November 1956, and a year and a half later, in the Austrian town of Saafelden, located, by the way, very close to Hochfilzen, it was decided to hold the first battle of the best shooting skiers in the world.

In the Soviet Union, until the beginning of 1958, competitions of shooting skiers were held according to special military applied rules.

The town of Saafelden, whose mayor in 1958 was a certain Adam Pichler , met the athletes with cordiality and hospitality. All athletes and coaches were settled in hotels, they were provided with opportunities for full-fledged training

The Swede Adolf Wiklund was by far a very accurate shooter.

The program of the first world championship included only one race - individual.

Athletes had to overcome a 20-kilometer distance with four firing lines. At the same time, the distance from which they fired was reduced each time. At the first line, it was 250 meters, at the second - 200, at the third - 150, and at the final - only 100.

At the first three firing lines, the athletes fired lying down, and at the fourth - standing. For each miss, two penalty minutes were added to the time of the athlete at once. It was also curious that winter biathletes used standard army weapons. Soviet athletes, for example, hit targets from an ordinary Mosin three-ruler.



'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Thu Feb 17th, 2022 at 07:08:12 PM EST
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