bi·​ath·​lon bī-ˈath-lən How to pronounce biathlon (audio)
: a composite athletic contest consisting of cross-country skiing and rifle sharpshooting

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A winter sports event, the biathlon combines cross-country skiing with rifle sharpshooting. It originated in Scandinavian hunting. It was first included in the Winter Olympics program in 1960. Competitors cover a 20-km (12.5-mile) course, carrying a rifle and ammunition. They stop at four points to fire five shots at small targets. Relay and 10-km events were added in 1968 and 1980 respectively.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Has the United States ever won an Olympic biathlon medal or a Paralympic medal? Johanna Gretschel, SELF, 4 Feb. 2022 Just a few days later, Gretsch won gold in the 10K sitting biathlon and Masters took home silver. Christa Sgobba, SELF, 11 Mar. 2022 Ukraine won all six medals in Tuesday's biathlon events. Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY, 8 Mar. 2022 Kjell was there with a small group, watching a Norwegian biathlon race on TV. Stuart Stevens, Outside Online, 11 Dec. 2019 The biathlon is a combination of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting, requiring equal amounts of endurance, discipline, and accuracy., 5 Feb. 2022 With the Winter Olympics rapidly approaching, the question of what is a biathlon is a pretty common one. Johanna Gretschel, SELF, 4 Feb. 2022 As soon as the Summer Paralympics are over, though, Aravich will shift her focus to qualifying for the Beijing Winter Paralympics in Nordic skiing and biathlon. Allison Torres Burtka, Outside Online, 25 Aug. 2021 With just over a year to learn and train for two new sports, Oksana competed in cross country skiing and the biathlon at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, 23 Mar. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'biathlon.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


bi- entry 1 + -athlon (as in decathlon)

First Known Use

1956, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of biathlon was in 1956

Dictionary Entries Near biathlon

Cite this Entry

“Biathlon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Nov. 2022.

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