Science of the Winter Olympics: For Biathletes, It’s All About Balance | Community Idea Stations

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Science of the Winter Olympics: For Biathletes, It’s All About Balance

Monika Hojnisz will be one to watch this year in the biathlon. A combination of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting, the biathlon requires athletes to go quickly from maximum intensity (fast skiing on rough terrain) to calm focus (shooting at multiple small targets 50 meters away). Many athletes are built for endurance, but biathletes also need plenty of strength to do the whole course of hills with an eight-pound rifle on their back.

Tests like the DEXA scan and the VO2 max help to determine if an athlete’s body has the right combination of strength and endurance to bring home a medal. Monika’s results show an athlete who is “all muscle,” but still very light, and one whose musculature makes her uniquely resistant to injury. But can her heart rate do what it must to support the highs and lows of this demanding event?

Watch this quick video to see why Monika has been described as one of the best endurance athletes on the planet.

Want to know more? Check out the National Science Foundation’s “Science of the Winter Olympics” video playlist.