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In pictures: A look at the Laura biathlon course

Canada will be among 19 countries to field a team in the new mixed relay

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Biathlon has been part of the Winter Olympics since 1958. The new wrinkle this year at Sochi is the addition of a mixed relay team race.

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The Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Centre was built specifically for the Sochi Games. Tested for the first time by international competitors in 2013, Laura is unique on the world circuit as it comprises of two separate stadiums with their own start and finish zones and two separate sets of tracks for cross-country skiing and biathlon.

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On the Laura biathlon course, 19 countries, including Canada, will field four-member teams that consist of two women and two men.

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The relay event, which is to take place on Feb. 19, starts with the women. The first women does three, two-kilometre loops, which includes two shooting stops, the first prone, the second standing. She then hands off to the second women who repeats the circuit. She in turn hands off to the first male team member, and so on. Each men’s loop is half a kilometre longer.

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In the shooting phase of event, the target is 50 metres away and each competitor has eight bullets for five targets. Each target missed requires the competitor to ski a 150-metre penalty loop.

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Rosanna Crawford, shown here during training for the 2010 Games in Vancouver, is one of eight Canadian biathletes heading to Sochi. The Canadians will probably wait until the last minute to decide which four biathletes will compete in the mixed relay to ensure the team has the optimal competitors for that particular day.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

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Canadians Zina Kocher, left, tagged by Megan Imrie during the women’s 4x6-kilometre relay at the 2010 Games in Vancouver, will also be part of Team Canada. Kocher, of Red Deer, Alta., is a contender for a spot on the mixed relay team in Sochi.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

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