Race Away…Part 2


On to Day 2 of our biathlon weekend.   Today’s race was a pursuit race.  Here comes the explanation of this type of race.  The racers are ranked, based on yesterdays race.  The person who finished first yesterday was the first to start the race today.  Since Sean finished second yesterday, he was second to depart in today’s race.  Racers start the race in sequence, every 5 seconds.  That meant that Sean started his race 5 seconds after the first boy in his category.  His job during the race is to “pursue” the leader. 

Sean did a great job catching his teammate, and after the first time that he shot, he had not only made up the 5 seconds, but he had pulled ahead of the leader.  I was SOOOO excited.  Sean got to the range, for his second time to shoot, ahead of the leader and because Sean generally shoots very well, I thought he was on his way to a victory.  As I mentioned yesterday though, nothing is ever a sure thing in a biathlon race.  I watched stunned as Sean missed every one of his targets.  He shot 0/5 targets!!!  What happened?  I was left wondering as I watched poor Sean skate FIVE penalty loops.  Poor kid!  I thought he would lose heart and not bother trying anymore after having to ski that many penalty loops, but he kept on going and as he came into the stadium, I could see that he was in third place, but just barely.   He came in just behind a teammate that usually is slower, and not as consistent a shot.  I therefore knew that  if he shot clean, he would be back in second place.  Good boy, he shot clean…5 out of 5 shots.

Then all that was left to do was ski it home!! He crossed the line in second place!  Another silver medal.  So what happened to him the second time he shot?  How did he miss all 5 targets?  It turns out the targets were frozen open.  When you shoot at a target, a metal cover flips up to cover the target.  These “covers” were frozen in place, so although Sean hit every single target, none of the covers flipped up.  It was not his fault, but mechanical failure is all part of the game.  The target “looked” like he missed them, so he had to ski his penalties. 

Frustrating, yes, but exciting.  In the few biathlon races I have seen, I have witness a few mechanical difficulties.  Yesterday Sean was handed a gun to shoot with that did not fire at all.  It had to be switched for another rifle.  I once saw a competitor miss all five targets and it ended up that he had dropped all his pellets on the mat beside him and was shooting only air at his targets.  Another time, a skier “blew” a ski and had to stop racing while he put it back on.  I love biathlon!

Day 55:  I am thankful for exciting finishes and hopeful for fewer mechanical difficulties in Sean’s future!!