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A Tribute To Biathlon, The Only Sport That Simulates Hunting Down And Shooting Another Human Being

With the Winter Olympics a mere 99 days away, it's time to jump-start your crippling case of SOCHI FEVER by appreciating the sport of skiing and shooting at things.

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Robert Michael / AFP / Getty

Allow me to explain. Biathlon combines cross-country skiing and shooting. There are five events in which competitors can earn medals; each involves skiing several kilometers between target stations.

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Via TIME magazine / youtube.com

The targets can be as small as two inches or so across, and competitors shoot at them from 50 meters (~164 feet) away. Think about running a mile as fast as possible, then standing in center field of a baseball stadium and trying to shoot a piece of fruit at home plate.

Via youtube.com

Being able to use a weapon accurately in the midst of long-distance exertion is a skill useful to soldiers (not hunters, as you might think — humans rarely run long distances as a hunting technique) and the original form of biathlon was called military patrol. It seems to have gotten started as an organized activity in the late 19th century in Russia and Scandinavia, where border guards often had to travel long distances to hunt down not only their fellow humans, but also reindeer who had turned to crime.

Martin Rose / Bongarts / Getty

So biathlon is derived from the act of tracking down and killing someone, i.e., the same sinister "sport" depicted in the 1924 short story "The Most Dangerous Game," the 1932 movie The Most Dangerous Game, the 1987 movie The Running Man, the 1994 movie Surviving The Game, the 2000 movie Battle Royale, all of the Hunger Games books and movies, and more.

TIME magazine / Via youtube.com

What's more, the U.S. team believes it's got an outside shot at winning its first-ever biathlon medal in Sochi. This tall drink of handsome is Tim Burke, who won a silver medal at the 2013 world championships.