Biathlon has changed a lot during its age-long history. Military patrol competitions turned into one of the most popular winter sports game with millions of fans. But this impressive result would be impossible without significant changes in regulations and rules of the competition.
The first changes touched targets and shooting range, when the standard distance from the shooting range to the targets became 150 meters, then this distance was reduced to 50 meters, which gave impetus to construction of biathlon stadiums. Gradually new kinds of biathlon races started appearing. It certainly, brought a variety in the program of competitions. For example, during World Championships 1974 in Raubichi athletes competed not only in classic 20K race but in the new kind of race that would later become well-known – 10K sprint race. Making the distance shorter, using spare rounds and many other new factors in biathlon led to increasing the audience appeal of biathlon. It’s notable that sports officials are still experimenting with formats, trying even more to increase the popularity of biathlon and attract new viewers and spectators.
Winter Sports center of Khanty-Mansiysk has hold biathlon World Cup legs ten times along its history. The last one was World Cup final 2015/2016. Two years later, in March 2018, the world biathlon is coming back to Ugra with IBU Cup Final 2017/218. IBU Cup races will take place in Khanty-Mansiysk for the first time.
The most important innovation of IBU Cup Final 2017/2018 will be Super Sprint. It’s a good try to light up biathlon. Sure, most of the fans are more than happy with the current list of competitions, but over time a lot of spectators and athletes themselves are willing to bring some changes to the sport. It is confirmed by a huge success of Super Mixed relay in commercial competitions.
Super Sprint is one of the youngest biathlon competitions and was held earlier only on the national level (e.g. Russian Biathlon Championships). The debut of the Super Sprint at the Russian Biathlon Championships was on March 18, 2007 in Novosibirsk. Anatoly Russkikh of Ugra and Maria Kominova were the first ever champions in this kind of competition in Russia. Still this race has never been in the IBU Event calendar before.
Super Sprint contains two brackets taking place in one day: the qualification and the final. The course length is always 800m. In the qualification the athletes start in intervals of 15 seconds. The total competition length is 2,4 km (three times 800m, with two shooting stages, prone and standing). With every shooting athletes have 3 spare rounds. According to the IBU rules there are no penalty loops, if the targets are not cleaned afterwards this means automatic disqualification of the athlete. However, as was said by Race Director IBU Cup Felix Bitterling, rules will be modified in Khanty-Mansiysk. «If the targets are not cleaned after eight shots, an athlete will have to take one 75 meters penalty lap per every missed target. We made this decision in order to avoid the situation where there will be insufficient number of athletes in the final».
The final will take place on the same day as the qualification. The top 30 athletes from the qualification will start the race simultaneously. Men and women complete 5 loops of 800 meters with 4 shooting stages. The winner is the first athlete to cross the finish line.
The fast races become more and more popular these days. It means that Super Sprint in Khanty-Mansiysk could be a rather historical competition. And you can’t miss an opportunity to witness it. We’re looking forward to see you in Khanty-Mansiysk at the IBU Cup Final!