The origins of biathlon
Biathlon has its origins in Scandinavia. It was used for hunting, which was done on skis. Rock paintings dating back more than 4,000 years have been discovered in Norway. They show two men tracking animals on skis. As a means of survival, the biathlon was also used in the military, as early as the 1700s.
The first competition took place in 1767 between patrols guarding the border between Norway and Sweden. But the first major international event took place at the Chamonix Olympic Games in 1924. Historically, Norwegians and Finns have dominated biathlon.
Today, biathlon is a very popular sport, both for athletes and spectators. It is even the most popular winter sport on the Old Continent. In France, peaks of over one million viewers have been reached since the 2015-2016 season.
Biathlon and the French
Biathlon is a sport that combines the precision of shooting with the power of cross-country skiing. And the French are rather gifted in this discipline. Several of them have reached a high level and have had successful careers. Here are some of them, either from Haute-Savoie or living in the heart of the department.
Although he is not from the region, Martin Fourcade lives on the shores of Lake Annecy. The five-time Olympic champion cut his teeth in the Jura and Vercors. Today, the most successful French athlete at the Olympic Games rides his mountain bike down the trails of the Plateau des Glières in winter.
Born in Le Grand-Bornand, Lucas Chavanat made his debut in official cross-country skiing competitions during the 2011-2012 season. In 2015, the sprint specialist took part in his very first World Cup. Since then, the Bornandin has been on several podiums.
Biathlete Justine Braisaz comes from the resort of Les Saisies. The Frenchwoman made her first World Cup start in the 2013-2014 season. In 2017, she climbed to the top of the podium at the Grand-Bornand mass-start. Justine Braisaz was crowned Olympic champion in 2022, during the mass start.
Where to do biathlon near Annecy?
If the vast majority of resorts offer biathlon initiations during the winter, some of them play the prolonged during the summer season. Here is an overview of the resorts in Haute-Savoie, Savoie and Isère where it is possible to try this discipline. And if sport isn’t your thing, why not just go to the Biathlon World Cup in Grand Bornand as a spectator? You can see top athletes in action.
The resorts of Haute-Savoie offer a wide range of activities during the winter season. It is therefore relatively easy to find one where you can try biathlon. We suggest you to discover those of the department where it is possible to try this sport:
- Le Grand Bornand
- La Clusaz
- Le Semnoz
- Les Contamines-Montjoie
- Plateau des Glières
- Praz de Lys Sommand
- Les Carroz
The Savoie resorts are not left out. Many of them also offer holidaymakers the chance to try biathlon:
- Val d’Isère
- Les Saisies
- La Plagne
- Les Arcs
- La Féclaz – Savoie Grand Revard
- La Giettaz
The Isère resorts also offer the opportunity to try biathlon. You can try this sport in :
All about biathlon
Biathlon requires very specific accessories. The skis, of course, are of the alternative style. They are, on average, 30 centimetres longer than your height. You can easily rent them in a specialised shop.
Another important point is the rifle. This is not a traditional model, but one specially designed for biathlon. It weighs between 3.5 and 6 kilos and is loaded manually. It is equipped with an adjustable sight that adapts to the wind, as well as a handlebar tunnel.
It is the alignment of this element with the sight that allows biathletes to hit the target. At the same time, the rifle has a flap to prevent snow from entering the muzzle. Two shoulder straps allow biathletes to carry the rifle on their backs after the shooting session.
Laser rifles are usually used for biathlon training.
Extra tip: When it comes to shoes, we recommend that you choose a size larger than your own. You will be more comfortable, especially on the downhill runs.
The need for suitable equipment
Of course, trying out biathlon requires suitable equipment. In winter, think of warm clothes, such as a ski suit. You should also choose thin gloves, which will allow you to better handle the rifle. You may have to run. Take several layers of clothing with you, so that you can remove them if necessary. Finally, don’t forget your sunglasses.