BIATHLON HISTORY – A breakthrough due to new skiing techniques and exciting competition formats
In the years after the 1979 World Championships, many new Nordic ski sports innovations were developed and tested by national and international ski clubs. In particular, the switch to a new skiing technique brought surprise and upheaval to the ranks of the biathletes and officials. Up until this point, the diagonal step, the pendulum step, and double-poling were the dominating elements of cross-country skiing. These were now enhanced by the Siitonen or Finnstep technique where a one-sided or alternating fishbone step markedly increases the efficiency and thereby leading to a significantly higher speed. Therewith the classic cross country ski technique was about to be replaced by the skating technique, even though it was not yet officially approved by the technical committee. To the amazement of many experts, in 1985 a young athlete from Oberhof, the 21 year old Frank-Peter Roetsch, raced to the forefront using the new skating technique with a previously unheard of dominance which left the rest of the competitors hopelessly behind. But already in the 1985 World Championships in Ruhpolding, the majority of the racers stormed along the tracks using the new technique. This new and dynamic skiing method was introduced for the first time only a few years later to the 1995/96 World Championships along with new competition formats and pursuit races and mass start. These races now presented extremely different challenges and brought a new element of suspense to the sport of biathlon which, along with improved television presentation and broadcasting fascinated both athletes and spectators.
PETER ANGERER (* 1959)
Like so many other top winter athletes, Peter Angerer from Hammer near Siegsdorf, began his athletic career in 1978 as a soldier with the Reichenhall division. His exceptional talent was quickly discovered and he was promoted by his youth coach Theo Merkel and National trainer Jürgen Seifert. He first gained attention in March, 1979 when he became the Junior World Champion in the Sprint. In the 1984 Olympic Winter Games in Sarajevo, he became the first Olympic winner from the center of excellence in Ruhpolding by winning a gold medal over 20 km, and a silver medal in the sprint. Previously, in 1983, he was the first West German athlete to win the Overall Biathlon World Cup and he subsequently won a silver medal in the relay in 1986 in Calgary.