Military patrol puts Swiss in their element

Military patrol was included as a demonstration sport in a St Moritz, just as it had been on several previous occasions. It might be best described as a team version of biathlon, with four members of the team having to endure a 25km cross-country ski while also shooting accurately with a rifle.

Picture by IOC

The climb was often steep and the athletes all had to wear backpacks to simulate the rigours of a military soldier. Each patrol had an officer as its leader, and he carried a pistol instead of a rifle, and was not involved in the shooting section. Targets were made out of balloons, positioned 150m away, and each one you hit knocked a minute off your total skiing time.

Conditions were said to be very mild on the day of the race, which began near the top of the Corviglia. Switzerland were the favourites and skied much faster than anyone else. However, the Finnish team proved the better shots and hit nine targets – four more than the Swiss. It wasn't enough for them to knock the home nation from top spot, but the Finns' fine shooting did push them above the Swedish team, who had set a better skiing time.

Within the Switzerland team was Arnold Andenmatten, an athlete of great longevity who carried on skiing into his 80s. Andenmatten had made his name as a glacier skier, winning these long and demanding races, the perfect preparation for the demands of the military patrol.

Andenmatten carried on skiing, and never stopped. He was still taking in ski races well into his 80s.