Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I saw a little of the women's and men's biathlon over the weekend. For those who are not familiar, this sport is a combination of cross-country skiing and target shooting, and was clearly derived from the need for such skills among ski troops; indeed, according to Wikipedia, the event at the 1924 Winter Olympics dubbed military patrol was the direct ancestor of today's biathlon.

The US has done better at the biathlon in the last few Olympics, but we hardly dominate; indeed, I believe we have never won a medal, although an American man was leading the World Cup standings in biathlon this season. I want to know why Americans aren't the leading power in this sport. In particular, with our passion for guns and shooting, why doesn't the US rule the medal field? Where is the NRA when we need it? Why aren't the solons of that organization encouraging American youth to go skimming over the snowfields, rifles on their backs, taking time off to whale away at tiny targets? Great preparation for the day the black helicopters descend.

(Seriously, great respect is due to biathletes; their event may be the most demanding of all winter sports. To race over the snow, then stop and get your heart rate down enough to hit a target is terribly hard. And they labor in obscurity.)

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