Super Bowl of Biathlon Opens Today

FasterSkierJanuary 9, 2008

Ruhpolding, Germany, January 9. This evening, the Ruhpolding Biathlon World Cup opens here under the lights with the Women’s Relay competition starting at 5:20 PM (CET).

The World Cup last week in Oberhof, Germany is the largest on the circuit, drawing more than 20,000 spectators over each of 5 days, while Ruhpolding expects about 90,000 total spectators.

Nevertheless, Ruhpolding outdoes Oberhof for the Bavarian party atmosphere, which spills out from the stadium to every street corner in this small alpine village. At the same time, the spectators here are so close to the start, finish, and shooting range here that they create a sometimes-deafening wall of sound. To win in Ruhpolding and step to the top of the podium in the evening awards ceremony in Champions Park is one of the highlights of any biathlete’s career. All of this, combined with the crowds that are three or four deep on every inch of the tracks, and the roar and music in the stadium give Ruhpolding that “Super Bowl Feeling.”

US Biathlon Executive Director Max Cobb is the International Biathlon Union Technical Delegate this year for the Ruhpolding World Cup. His job is to oversee all technical areas of the competitions, from course grooming to the shooting range to team captains meetings and enforcement of the rules of biathlon. In the video interview below, Cobb talks about what makes Ruhpolding stand out from almost any other event in the sport.

Last night, the week of competitions, (evening Relays Wednesday and Thursday, Sprints Friday and Saturday and Pursuits on Sunday) kicked off with the opening ceremonies in Champions Park. The 1-hour extravaganza, included introductions of the German Team, a parade of nations (39 are participating) and a spectacular fireworks display, all shown live at 8 PM on German television. The newspapers say the show had an audience of at least 2 million viewers.

The US Biathlon Team will compete in the Men’s Relay on Thursday evening. This competition, with a 5:20 start like the women on Wednesday, is a dinnertime production to maximize the weekday audience. The US Biathlon Men’s Team of Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK), Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY), Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY), and Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, AK) are in Ruhpolding, while Lanny and Tracy Barnes (Durango, CO) are competing at the European Cup in Langdorf, Germany.

Live streaming video coverage of Biathlon World Cup competitions for the remainder of the season, as well as archived highlights, is available by clicking the athlete photo at the top of the news column at


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