January 15, 2023 | at the FISU Winter University Games
At the Mt. Van Hoevenberg during the FISU World University Games in Lake Placid 2023, local American fans were particularly fond of biathlon.
Whether its resemblance to the sport of shooting, which is very popular in the US, or the reference to the tradition of Nordic living in the mountains, all participants have good reason to express their passion for this 60-year-old. discipline.
“It’s an interesting mix of sports and it’s great to watch,” exclaims Michael, 34, as the biathletes alternate between skiing and four five-shot rifle shooters.
“Wow, they shoot from so far away,” adds a youth from Lake Placid.
The enthusiasm of the hosts can be seen as unexpected, considering that biathlon is not the sport in which the United States has performed the best in history compared to other dominant nations such as Norway, France and Germany. But it certainly speaks to something different for local fans.
“In a way, it reminds us of hunter-gatherers,” the Wisconsin-born woman remarks to her partner as the couple watch a biathlon for the first time.
A little further in the stands, the fan is already converted to sport.
“It seems to keep the tradition of hunting and living in the mountains of the Nordic countries, and physically it is extremely impressive. So he has everything to please us.”
The U.S. team won 6 shooting medals at the last Summer Olympics and 20 percent of all Olympic gold medals ever awarded in the sport, making the U.S. the number one country in the sport.
However, biathlon has its own challenges, points out Eddie, a 53-year-old from the region.
“I was at a shooting competition, but it’s nothing like that! It’s hard to find peace in a place, I can’t imagine after such a long sprint on skis.”
Witnessing the triumphs of Kazakhstani Vadim Kurales and Canadian Shilo Rousseau in the individual races on Saturday, Eddie and the rest of the American fans who came to enjoy the FISU Games were happier than ever cheering on local favorites Dulcie Tanguay and Van General.
So will biathlon become a mainstream American sport? Mary, 49, hopes so.
“When I was growing up, there was a shooting club that students went to after school and it was always very popular. I would like biathlon to become the same here because it’s really amazing to see shooting combined with a Nordic sport.”