Every time it comes on, I giggle. I can’t help it. To me, it is a bit absurd. Skiing cross-country and shooting a gun? Jerry Seinfeld’s words ring in my ears…
“In the Winter Olympics they have that biathlon that combines cross-country skiing and shooting a gun. How many alpine snipers are into this? To me, it’s like combining swimming and… strangle a guy, why don’t we have that? That makes absolutely as much sense to me. Just put people in the pool at the end of each lane for the swimmers.”
The sport, which is actually incredibly difficult, began in 1767 and was a form of military training for the Norwegian military. And despite not being in the Olympics until 1960, it is immensely popular in Europe and in Nordic countries in particular.
I had never really seen the sport before, but after watching it several times on Swedish television this winter, I can say it’s actually pretty impressive. Though the distance they ski varies, when they cross the finish line it’s like hitting the power button; they all collapse to the ground, breathing heavily with their faces covered in slobber (no time to wipe I guess).
Swedes, in particular, love this sport. I received constant scolding from my boyfriend when I laughed, a habit I still cannot help despite understanding it a bit more now. But the only thing funnier than the sport itself, is the song that Swedes sing to root on their countrymen:
Heja Sverige friskt humör, skjortan hänger utanför!
Which translates to: Go Sweden healthy mood, his shirt is … hanging outside?