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I watched the Sochi 2014 Biathlon Men's Sprint today. In the Sprint race, the racers start separately, at 30 second intervals, and the racers stop twice along the cross-country ski course to shoot at five targets: once from a laying down position and once from a standing position. If they miss any of their targets, they are assessed a penalty. My question is: how does the penalty work? Does time get added on to their result if they miss, or do they get time taken off for each target they make, or is there some other method for penalizing misses in the target shooting portion of the race?

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There are several type of race in Biathlon:

  • In the "Sprint" / "Pursuit" / "Mass Start" format every athlete will race on added 150-meters lap (both men and women) just at the end of the shoot zone, then return in the normal track.
  • In the "Individual" format every athlete will take 1 minute of penality that has to be added to the ski time (it is added in real time, so the athletes will arrive at the finish with is own final time).
  • In the "Relays" (men/women/mixed) format each athletes can use 3 reserve shoots to arrive to take 5 target with no penality (using a reserve shoot is a lost of time!), after 3 errors they have to run 150-meters lap penality
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In the Biathlon Men's Sprint at Sochi, racers ski three times around a 3.3-kilometer loop, for a total of 10-kilometers. After the first and second loops, they stop to shoot five targets. For each target the racer misses, he needs to ski around a 150-meter penalty loop immediately after the target stop before he continues on to the next race loop.

The Women's Sprint is the same, except their race loop is 2.5-kilometers, for a total of 7.5-kilometers.

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