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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
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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
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