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.

Examples of biathlon in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In addition to the previous sports offered, the 2025 event will include alpine skiing, snowboarding, biathlon, Nordic skiing, skeleton and wheelchair curling for the first time. Stephanie Petit, Peoplemag, 17 Feb. 2024 Soldier Hollow, which hosted biathlon and Nordic sports during the 2002 Olympics, is expected to host those events again if Salt Lake City is chosen as the host for either the 2030 or 2034 Winter Games. Julie Jag, The Salt Lake Tribune, 15 Sep. 2023 While the high speeds, steep inclines and sharp angles make danger a constant presence in Alpine skiing, no matter what sort of stuff is underfoot, injury-causing crashes are increasingly common in Nordic skiing and biathlon because the snow created by people produces harder, slicker tracks. Howard Fendrich and Pat Graham, Anchorage Daily News, 31 Jan. 2022 Her 17 medals are also for rowing, cycling and the biathlon. Emily Bobrow, WSJ, 17 Feb. 2023 This annual event hosted by the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage draws hundreds of children under age 14 who come to Kincaid Park to ski races, obstacle courses, biathlon and more. Anchorage Daily News, 17 Feb. 2023 During his recovery, Cnossen — who is sponsored by workforce and human resources management company UKG — was introduced to cross-country skiing and biathlon. Jason Duaine Hahn,, 1 Apr. 2022 Elsewhere, the Americans finished seventh in the mixed relay biathlon. Jace Evans, USA TODAY, 5 Feb. 2022 Has the United States ever won an Olympic biathlon medal or a Paralympic medal? Johanna Gretschel, SELF, 4 Feb. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'biathlon.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 21 Feb. 2024.

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