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Where Can You Try the Biathlon in the United States?

Where can you participate in the excitement of the biathlon in the United States? Read on...

American winter sports generally favor the popular, easily-accessible headliners of the Olympics. Skiing and snowboarding, skating and hockey, luge, curling, and bobsledding dominate the field in America, so much so that some sports, popular in other countries, are all but unheard of in the United States.

For example, biathlon is a little known and less reported-upon winter sport outside of Europe.

Stemming from an ancient Nordic tradition, the biathlon is an intense sport that remains true to its beginnings: to train a hunter to be a brutally efficient in frigid conditions. This exciting sport combines the familiar sport of skiing with precision shooting, making its athletes some of the fastest and deadliest in the world of competitive sports. The Olympians of biathlon ski to an average heart rate of 175 bpm and fire five shots in as little as seven seconds at a 4.5 inch diameter target 165 feet away.

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Norway, France, and Belarus lead in the medal counts each Olympics, but the United States can certainly hold its own. For instance, in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Lowell Bailey of Lake Placid, New York recorded the best individual finish for an American in the history of the games. This performance earned him eighth place in the Men's Individual 20k.

Where to Learn Biathlon

With our excellent showing this past year, many novices may take an interest in the sport. Although biathlon is still not an especially popular or well-known sport in the United States, there are two excellent facilities available suited to any young, ambitious biathlete looking to learn more about the sport and start out.

RELATED: 2014 Olympic Biathlon Brings Shooting to the World Stage

Lake Placid hosted the games in 1932 and 1980, as well as multiple World Cup events. The Olympic Sports Complex offers a two-hour biathlete experience, one hour each to skiing and shooting. Available to athletes ages 13 and older, the complex provides an instructor to accompany the athlete through training for $55 on specific dates.

Similarly, Soldier Hollow Cross-Country Ski Resort near Park City, Utah hosted the 2014 U.S. Cross-Country Championships. It's a go-to location for skate and traditional cross-country skiers, in addition to a biathlon experience.

In Soldier Hollow, visitors can fire the very rifles used in the 2002 Olympic games. $129 will buy such a visitor a two-hour session, equipment rentals, instruction, and ammunition. Anyone hoping to secure a session must reserve in advance.

Any athlete hoping to someday compete professionally should be aware that these facilities offer excellent introductions to the sport, but are not suitable for more elite training. Like any craft, sport, or art, those who do want to become professionally competitive someday, particularly those without access to these facilities, should join a local club.

Among the most active in the United States are The Maine Winter Sports Center, Minnesota Biathlon, New York Biathlon, and the Washington Biathlon Association.

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Where Can You Try the Biathlon in the United States?