Watch World Cup Biathlon at SOHO in March!

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by Andre Crouch

As I write this I have an ever changing swirl of emotions.  Winter has returned and it was a lovely Swix extra blue classic morning at Mountain Dell:)  However this evening I anticipate bad news regarding the Birkie due to lack of snow in the Midwest. However, in less than a month, the world’s best biathletes will be coming to Utah for the IBU World Cup Biathlon races at Soldier Hollow March 8-10!

Last month’s TUNA News featured an article about why it is good to watch World Cup skiing.  I couldn’t agree more, and we have an opportunity to watch World Cup skiing live here along the Wasatch Back.  Many of these athletes will be competing in the 2026 Olympic Winter games.  

The races will provide a great time for those of all ages.  Obviously, watching the top racers in the world will be exciting for those aspiring young skiers.  The US team athletes who will be competing at SoHo are yet to be determined at the time of writing this article.  One of those athletes who will potentially be competing is Salt Lake City’s very own Vincent Bonacci.  He is currently skiing the IBU World Championships in the Czech Republic, where with his three teammates he just scored the best US men’s relay finish in history. Vincent grew up skiing for TUNA and Team Soldier Hollow

For those who aren’t into the racing, the Winter Festival will provide other activities from face painting to axe throwing to mechanical bull riding.  Food trucks will provide multiple options for those who hunger and thirst.  Live music will top off the day after the races on Saturday and Sunday.  

Editor’s Note: As of this publication, the US Team of Vincent Bonacci (TUNA Alum), Sean Doherty, Campbell Wright, and Jake Brown just finished 5th place in the IBU World Championships in Nové Město na Moravě, Czech Republic. This is days after Deerdra Irwin and Campbell Wright finished 7th in the single mixed relay. Come see Vincent and his team at Soho!

Competition Schedule:

Friday, March 8
12:25 pm – Men 4 x 7.5 km Rela
3:00 pm – Women 7.5 km Sprint

Saturday, March 9
12:25 pm – Women 4 x 6 km Relay
3:00 pm – Men 10 km Sprint

Sunday, March 10
10:00 am – Women 10 km Pursuit
11:50 am – Men 12.5 km Pursuit

For more information you may check out the below website:

Here you can find further details on spectating (it’s free unless you want extra nice seats), the Winter Festival, and volunteering.  This event and future events could never take place without a dedicated community of volunteers.  It’s not too late to jump in and help.

Biathlon Primer:

For many of us the format of biathlon competitions can be a bit perplexing.  So here is a brief primer on the events that will be taking place at SoHo.  

-First event is a 4 x 6/7.5 km Relay.  This is a mass start event where each skier will ski a total of 3 laps.  After the first lap the racer will shoot in the prone (lying down) position.  The distance to the target is 50m and the size of the target is roughly that of an oreo cookie (1.8 inches).  There are 5 targets to hit.  Each racer gets to shoot 1 full magazine which holds 5 rounds (bullets).  Unique to the relay, they also get to have 3 extra rounds that are loaded by hand if necessary.  If they still have not hit all the targets, they will ski a penalty loop for each miss.  After the second lap they will shoot in the standing position where the diameter of the target is larger (4.5 inches).  They then ski their 3rd lap (+/- penalty loops) and tag off to the next skier.

-Second event is a 7.5/10 km Sprint.  This race is an individual start.  It is also a total of 3 laps with 2 stages of shooting.  The first stage is prone while the second stage is in the standing position.  As opposed to the relay, there are no spare rounds.  Once again, each miss results in a lap around the penalty loop of 150 m.  This format with only 2 stages of shooting tends to favor the stronger skiers.  The final results also have major implications for the Pursuit races.

-Third event is a 10/12.5 km Pursuit.   This race is also an individual start, but the start order and timing between racers are determined by the results of the Sprint races.  Each skier will ski a total of 5 laps.  There will be 4 stages of shooting in the prone, prone, standing, and standing positions.  After each stage of shooting, penalty laps are skied.  First skier to cross the finish line is the winner.  

Biathlon is the second most popular televised sport in Europe over the winter months.  Second only to soccer.   Some of this has to do with Europeans fascination with the endurance sports and activities.  Biathlon certainly fits in this category, but the shooting adds a whole new element of suspense.  If Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo or Linn Svahn are in a sprint race final, odds are very high they will win.  With the element of shooting all sorts of crazy shake ups can occur mid race.  The unanticipated outcomes of biathlon make for must see TV.  

The races at SoHo will be during prime time in Europe so millions of eyes will be watching what we get to experience.  So come on out and have a great time.  Maybe you can be dancing with the Dinosaur (the unofficial mascot of SoHo biathlon races who has also been found at international races cheering on team USA) or helping as a volunteer.  There are rumors of a bison at the top of the Cabin Loop, fingers crossed they aren’t just rumors.  So wear your cowboy hat and whatever jacket is appropriate for the variable late winter weather!  Cheers, hope to see you this March.

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Jen is a USSA L200 cross-country ski coach. Prior to skiing, she raced road, cyclocross, and mountain bikes internationally as a professional. Currently Jen is the Junior Comp coach and TUNA Programs Administrator.