The United States has won a medal in every Winter Olympic sport, except one: biathlon.
It's not a surprise that the U.S. has struggled to find success compared to its European counterparts. Just as the sport itself is a dichotomy of activities — athletes must raise their heartrates as they race through a cross-country skiing course, then remain as still as possible while they shoot tiny targets from about 50 yards away — there is also a huge difference in the sport's popularity on both sides of the Atlantic.
In countries such as Norway and Germany, TV ratings for the World Biathlon Championships rival those of events like the NBA Finals in the United States, and thousands of fans fill the stadiums and line the courses at World Cup races. As a result, participation is high in those countries, and athletes get involved with the sport at an early age.
Despite the inherent advantages that other countries enjoy, Americans are getting closer to breaking through. Lowell Bailey won a world title in 2017 and came within one shot of earning an Olympic medal in 2014. Other members of the U.S. biathlon team, such as Susan Dunklee and Clare Egan, have also made the podium at various events in recent years.
As Egan says: "We have the ability to be on a podium. We just happen to have not done it at that particular event in February held every fourth year."
The latest episode of The Podium podcast from NBC Sports dives into the sport of biathlon and looks at the progress that the U.S. is making in the competitive landscape. It includes conversations with Bailey, who is now the director of high performance for U.S. Biathlon, and Egan, who is headed to her second Winter Olympics. Listen to the full episode below.
Season 3 of The Podium is hosted by Lauren Shehadi. Follow on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. New episodes will be released weekly on Tuesdays ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, followed by daily episodes throughout the duration of the Games