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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
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