Susan Dunklee competes during the Women 7.5 km Sprint at the BMW IBU World Cup Biathlon Hochfilzen on Dec. 11, 2020 in Hochfilzen, Austria.

The sport we know today as biathlon debuted as “military patrol” back at the inaugural Olympic Winter Games in 1924 in Chamonix, France, and it’s easy to see where the name came from. The combination of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting is just the sort of skillset that would come in handy for any military in a snowy, mountainous region. Biathlon emerged as the modern interpretation of the sport and has been a medal event on the Olympic program at each Games since 1960.

Biathlon presents a unique challenge to competitors. Cross-country skiing is among the most physically demanding of sports, a challenge all its own, but athletes must manage to slow their heart rate from 180 beats per minute or more in order to stay steady on the shooting range. And every miss just means more skiing. For every missed target, athletes must complete a penalty loop, which could mean the difference between winning and losing.

While the Nordic countries dominate in cross-country skiing, it’s Germany that leads the all-time medal table in biathlon. The Germans have won 19 gold medals and 52 medals overall. Absent from the medal table is Team USA, still seeking its first biathlon medal at the Games. An octet of experienced athletes hopes to change that. Five athletes on the eight-person team for Beijing are making their return to the Games.

The Olympic program includes five events for both men and women of varying distances. There’s also a mixed relay event that was added to the program in 2014. That makes a total of 11 medal events for the third Games in a row.

Biathlon will take place at the aptly-named National Biathlon Center located in the Zhangjiakou mountain cluster of venues northwest of Beijing.

Updated on January 28, 2022. For more information, contact the sport press officer here.

• Beijing will be the last go-round for two of Team USA’s longest-tenured members of the national team. Susan Dunklee and Clare Egan have both announced that they will retire at the conclusion of this season, making the Beijing Games their last.

• Biathlon is the white whale for Team USA — it’s the only sport on the current Winter Olympic program in which the U.S. has failed to medal. Among many close calls, the 2018 men’s relay team finished sixth in the 4x7.5-kilometer, its best finish in a relay since 1972.

Susan Dunklee (Craftbury, Vermont): Dunklee will hang up her rifle and skis for good after Beijing with a unique distinction: Her silver medal at the 2017 world championships was the first ever for a U.S. woman in an individual event. Dunklee, 35, also captured a silver medal in 2020. Dunklee was an accomplished cross-country skier first, and then she learned to shoot at the age of 22. Dunklee’s father Stan is a two-time Olympian in cross-country skiing.

Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine): Egan too leaves biathlon having made a major mark on the sport as a soon-to-be two-time Olympian and a member of six world championship teams. The 34-year-old was a multi-talented athlete growing up and competed at the Division I level in cross-country, track and Nordic skiing at the University of New Hampshire. She did so all while pursuing a master’s degree in linguistics, which helped her learn to speak five languages.

Sean Doherty (Center Conway, New Hampshire): Though only 26, Doherty is already heading to his third Olympic Winter Games. That’s not counting his appearance at the Youth Olympic Games back in 2012. The next year, he made U.S. biathlon history at the youth world championships by becoming the first athlete to make three podiums at any level of world championships. Doherty has since competed on six senior world championships teams.

Leif Nordgren (Hinesburg, Vermont): One of the longest-tenured members of the national team, the 32-year-old Nordgren is heading to his third Olympic Winter Games. A veteran of nine world championship teams, Nordgren serves in the Army National Guard as an aviation operations specialist and hopes to become a pilot one day.

Meet the full U.S. biathlon team in this article.
Feb. 5 – Men’s and women’s 4x6-kilometer mixed relay
Feb. 7 – Women’s 15-kilometer individual
Feb. 8 – Men’s 20-kilometer individual
Feb. 11 – Women’s 7.5-kilometer sprint
Feb. 12 – Men’s 10-kilometer sprint
Feb. 13 – Women’s 10-kilometer pursuit, men’s 12.5-kilometer pursuit
Feb. 15 – Men’s 4x7.5-kilometer relay
Feb. 16 – Women’s 4x6-kilometer relay
Feb. 18 – Men’s 15-kilometer mass start
Feb. 19 – Women’s 12.5-kilometer mass start