February 15, 2010

Nordic Triathlon?

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Like everyone else, I spent all of Valentine’s weekend watching the Olympics.  I love that NBC is giving more prime coverage to some of the more unusual Winter Olympic sports, rather than filling its coverage with profiles of every figure skater in the competition.

On Sunday, we got to see the two weird combo events in the Winter Games: Biathlon and Nordic Combined. 

For those who aren’t Olympics junkies, Biathlon combines cross country skiing with target shooting.  The competitors ski with a rifle strapped to their backs and have to stop several times during the race to shoot at small targets.  The challenge is that cross country skiing is one of the most difficult cardiovascular workouts (remember the old Nordic Trac commercials?) and shooting requires you to be perfectly still.  So the biathletes get their heart rates high during the skiing and then have to calm down very quickly as they enter the shooting gallery.

Nordic Combined is another two-sport event combining ski jumping and cross country skiing.  The interesting thing here is that while both events involve skis strapped to the athletes’ feet, they require totally different skills.  As I mentioned above, cross country skiing is all about endurance and cardio.  Ski jumping requires explosive strength in the jump and total body control in flight.  Competitors in Nordic Combined have to prepare with two totally different training regimens. 

So this raises the obvious question: Why isn’t there a Nordic Triathlon?  Combine ski jumping with a biathlon and you have a new event that requires an even broader set of skills.  Cross country skiing is already an element of the other two events, so combining the two seems like a no-brainer.  For added drama, the athletes could also be required to complete the ski jump with rifles strapped to their backs.  Why not?

3 Responses:

gpb said...

This is by far one of the most brilliant ideas I have ever read. Nordic triathlon would be one of the most awesome sports to watch. Jump for seed, staged start for ski/shoot, and first three to cross medal, I presume?

Watching both was just awesome. These sports need to be highlighted along with luge/bobsled as the badass sports of the Winter Games. Makes me want to just try these sports out on a hobby level.

I really would like to punch the commentators for biathlon though. They make it sound like it's so easy to hit those targets when it really isn't.

Brien said...

I loved Al Trautwig doing biathlon. They were a bit harsh on the shooters, but you really do have to be close to perfect to win gold.

And I hadn't thought it through that far, but I like your method for running the event (just like nordic combined, but with shooting).

I think they're not promoted as much as other sports because NBC thinks we don't have a long enough attention span to care about an event that takes half an hour. They prefer to push luge, bobsled, short track, moguls, downhill, and other sports that each run takes a couple of minutes or less.

Anonymous said...

Winter triathlon, which consists of running, biking and cross country skiing already exists (World Championships were this weekend - http://www.usatriathlon.org/news/2010/02/13/usa-s-dussault-wins-gold-at-winter-triathlon-world-championships/32010). Nordic triathlon sounds like fun, too.

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