How ski warfare created biathlon
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How ski warfare created biathlon

November 15, 2019


This is biathlon. A timed ski race where you shoot at rifle
ranges along the course. It’s awesome, but also kind of odd. There’s no other sport that combines athleticism
and weaponry the same way. Although it’s popular in Europe, most Americans only know it from whatever
James Bond movie that was. It’s For Your Eyes Only, by the way. But that’s not the point. Biathlon isn’t just a trivia answer,
it’s a competitive professional sport with military roots that stretch back centuries. And it all started in Norway
with a guy named Oscar. Oscar Wergeland was a Norwegian military officer
who loved skiing. In 1865 he wrote a book of ski drills for
his troops. Before then, members of the Swedish and Norwegian border patrol had been meeting for contests that
combined skiing with rifle shooting. But Wergeland’s book turned the mixture
into an official exercise and the idea took off. Throughout Europe, militaries began building
up their ski troops and by World War I, soldiers on both sides
were fighting on skis. After the war, the creation of the Winter
Olympics gave ski troops a new purpose. In 1924, a demonstration of skiing and shooting
was added to the first ever winter Olympics. It was called “Military Patrol”
and the participants were soldiers from nations attending the games. The Olympic demonstration continued for a couple of
decades, But outside of the Olympics, ski warfare continued. In 1939, Finnish ski troops, fought the Russians in in a World War II invasion called “The Winter War”. Finland fights on. Although they lost the battle, the Finns used
alpine skills, particularly skiing, to inflict major losses against the Russians. As World War II evolved, countries on both
sides saw the success of Finland and started creating propaganda for their
own winter warfare battalions. The US had its own winter unit,
the 10th Mountain division, which prepared for conflict in Europe by training on mountains in Colorado and Washington State. He learns how to wax his skis. Three years after the war ended, military
patrol was demonstrated for the last time at the
1948 Olympics in St. Moritz. But that didn’t stop amateurs from competing
on their own. Civilians began hosting competitions that
combined skiing with shooting and that led to a petition for official Olympic recognition. In 1960 at Squaw Valley, the sport returned to the Winter Games as an official event called “biathlon”. That was the moment biathlon went from being a Norwegian
military drill to a competitive professional sport. Although rules and headwear have
changed through the 70s, 80s, and 90s, modern biathlon is a clear product of its
military origins. The sport mimics the sharp transition between
physical effort and mental focus experienced by soldiers in battle. Biathletes shoot when their heart rate is
extremely high, and their breathing can make it really difficult to hit five targets in
a row. But unlike soldiers, the penalty for modern athletes is only more time or just more skiing.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. The Winter Olympics are over, but that doesn't mean we're done being obsessed with the events. We interviewed an expert about the Olympics, ultra-endurance events like biathlon, and the truth behind "mind over matter" in sport: http://bit.ly/2t8PzCc

  2. Why are people from the fifty's and before always talking so weird. And why aren't we talking like that anymore. It would be so great if Vox could make a video about it.

  3. Vox- After that “although they lost the battle” comment about the winter war, I thing it’s only fair you follow up with a “winter war, explained” video. At the time, Finland did not have a military, but Finns held off one of the largest military powers in the world. This took a huge tole on the soviets. As Finns, we are extremely proud of the winter war despite having to give up some land. People who haven’t studied the war tend to draw conclusions about it, when by all means the winter war is full of anomalies.

  4. 2:05 The Swedish poster is not really ”propaganda”, the meaning of it is to encourage you to join the “Frivilligkåren” and help Finland against the soveits.

  5. Finland DID NOT lose, if it lost it would have been occupied like Estonia, Latvia etc. Finland lost some land, but kept their independence.

  6. Vox, why are you not making a video about what's going on in South Africa? You could do a video about the systematic racism and the drought at the same time.

  7. While it’s good that the sport is getting attention, you guys trivialized a truly complex subject again… there’s so much more than your cleanly edited 3 minute video can give off.

  8. Why on earth do you call it something as extremely vague as "biathlon" instead of the much clearer and more obvious "Ski shooting"?

  9. Female Biathlon should be a major sport in the US; Hot chicks in spandex and guns, how could any sport be better? This is the best winter sport ever.

  10. If you change the rules so that the competitors must shoot each other, then you'd have the USA watching it…

  11. I was in 10th Mountain division… In Louisiana, a state known for its flatness.
    10th Mountain division does not train Mountain Warfare anymore. I honestly believe the mountain tab should be the same as the Airborne tab and should be a requirement for American mountain soldiers

  12. I thought this channel has a bunch of liberal followers, not once in this did I hear about guns or anything negative

  13. I thought it was a sport that came from hunting. Because of course that could quickly become competitive, then someone comes along and says “why don’t we make this a sport” and then you have just that.

  14. I just can't imagine killing someone wearing a pair of skis…Like "hey wanna get get some hot chocolate when we get to the bottom?" Yeah, right after I KILL YOU

  15. Finland didn't loose the winter war. Russia tried to invade Finland but stopped shortly after major losses. If we had lost, I would be speaking russian rigth now.

  16. FINLAND DID NOT LOSE THE BATTLE! FINLAND DID NOT LOSE THE BATTLE!FINLAND DID NOT LOSE THE BATTLE!FINLAND DID NOT LOSE THE BATTLE!FINLAND DID NOT LOSE THE BATTLE!FINLAND DID NOT LOSE THE BATTLE!FINLAND DID NOT LOSE THE BATTLE!It was a tie. some land had to be given to soviets in the seace fire negotiations. NEVERTHELESS FINLAND KEPT ITS INDEPENDENCE, WHEN MANY OTHER COUNTRIES LOST THEIRS

  17. First time I'm even hearing about this, no one watches Winter Olympics in Nigeria cos it's literally Summer all year round

  18. 0:48 "Cross country skiing, use in history and war, some addition to and illumination of our earlier conditions of military conscription" "Kristiania(Oslo's old name), printed at 'name of printer' – 1865, with 3 lithographs"

    just in case you wondered 😉

  19. Combines athleticism and technical skill and has military roots? Just like marching band and drum corps in the US.

  20. Wait Fins fought Ruskies in WW2? Why? That seems like it would be more of a WW1 thing or something. Was Finland allied with Germany?

  21. SUOMII VIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU PEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRKEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

  22. I want to see ski jumping combined with skeet shooting! You set off with your two-shot shotgun – as you jump off two skeets are sent flying across your path. Points is then awarded for number of skeets downed, style and jump length.
    A surefire crowd pleaser!

    -Regards, A Norwegian

  23. Rigth Chaps! Better Give Us Norwegians A Round Of Applause For Our Idea And Invention Of Skiing!

  24. I found an easy way to win just have your rifle out the entire event and if anybody tries to pass you then BOOM! headshot!

  25. Thank you for the video ?
    I absolutely love biathlon. I discovered it on TV a few years ago and have been watching every single race since then. It really seems to be getting more and more exciting every season. So many athletes who can finish on the podium and so many different events. I am lucky to live in Germany. Biathlon is after football the second most popular sport here. Obviously considering the fact that the Germans currently are the strongest team in biathlon, helps gaining new viewers every year. I really hope that it gets more attention, especially in the United States or Great Britain. It already is very popular in huge parts of Europe. This sport is so entertaining. Absolutely love watching it every winter.

  26. Ok so iv had an idea for the longest time and i want it to take off. Its call skate guns, take you're skateboard and what ever calibar handgun or rifle and do a trick off the ramp while hitting the target. Rules are simple each has one shot,30 feet away moving and the best tirck with a target hit gets the most points. Iv tried this with bb guns and it works pretty well. Only problem is safety concerns.

  27. After the Finnish ski troops, Siberian ski troops were the best ski warfare units in WWII. Siberian troops transferred from the Far East to the Moscow front launched a massive counteroffensive against the Wehrmacht.

  28. Alpine skiing has nothing to do with biathlon or the Finnish winter war. Nordic skiing (cross country skiing) is a completely different thing.
    Another thing: nobody fights on skis. Skiing is a great way of moving troops from A to B fast in snowy terrain, but ski troops fight on foot.

  29. The first time i went skiing i had a swiss k31 and a swiss army wool tunic and swiss army skiis and boots. I think yku can tell what i was doinf

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