Low­ell Bai­ley

Wins His­toric Biathlon Worlds Gold for USA

SkiTrax - - Contents - by Sue We­myss

Af­ter a suc­cess­ful 17-year ca­reer with US Biathlon, Low­ell Bai­ley, 37, from Lake Placid, N.Y. an­nounced his re­tire­ment fol­low­ing the 2017-18 sea­son. The four-time Olympian made his­tory at the 2017 IBU Biathlon World Cham­pi­onships, win­ning the first-ever Cham­pi­onship gold medal by an Amer­i­can biath­lete.

Bai­ley grew up with cross-coun­try ski­ing in his blood, com­pet­ing in his first race at the age of three, and with the help of child­hood ski-coach Bill Brooker, the young ris­ing star was in­vited to a US Biathlon tal­ent-iden­ti­fi­ca­tion camp when he was 13 years old. The op­por­tu­nity to com­bine shoot­ing and ski­ing be­came his pas­sion, and he fo­cused on com­pet­ing at the Ju­nior Biathlon World Cham­pi­onships from 1999 through to 2001, where he achieved his best re­sult, fin­ish­ing 11th in the Pur­suit.

As he grad­u­ated from the ju­nior ranks, Bai­ley nar­rowly missed out on his first Olympic berth in 2002 for the Salt Lake City Games. How­ever, the next year he qual­i­fied for the se­nior Biathlon Worlds in Khanty-man­siysk, Rus­sia, the first of 11 appearances at Worlds.

Dur­ing the 2003-04 sea­son, Bai­ley put his in­ter­na­tional ca­reer on hold to race for the Univer­sity of Ver­mont’s (UVM) Cata­mount ski team. While at­tend­ing UVM, he placed sec­ond on two oc­ca­sions at the Na­tional Col­le­giate Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion Cham­pi­onships.

Bai­ley re­turned to full-time train­ing at the Maine Win­ter Sports Cen­ter in Fort Kent, Me. He went on to make the U.S. Olympic team in 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018.

At 30, he had a break­through sea­son in 2011-12 with two top-five World Cup per­for­mances, fin­ish­ing the sea­son in 14th over­all. He sur­passed that rank­ing dur­ing the 2016-17 sea­son, where he fin­ished a record eighth over­all, the best-ever re­sult by an Amer­i­can biath­lete.

Bai­ley reached a new high point of rac­ing achieve­ment for the men’s US Biathlon team at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Rus­sia. The Lake Placid na­tive reg­is­tered the best re­sult at an Olympic Games for an Amer­i­can biath­lete, plac­ing eighth in the In­di­vid­ual 20km race. Soon af­ter, he fol­lowed that up with his first World Cup podium in the men’s 10km sprint at Kon­ti­o­lahti, Fin­land.

In 2015, he tied the knot with Erika Ed­g­ley and started a fam­ily. By the next year, he was con­sid­er­ing hang­ing up his skis for good to fo­cus on his new fam­ily life. For­tu­nately, the chair­man of the board of the Cross­cut Moun­tain Sports Cen­ter reached out and of­fered Bai­ley a job as a con­sul­tant for its new biathlon-train­ing fa­cil­ity, al­low­ing him to work while away at com­pe­ti­tions.

Bai­ley took the op­por­tu­nity, and in 2017, he scored his most iconic vic­tory of all, a win at the Biathlon World Cham­pi­onships in men’s 20km In­di­vid­ual at Hochfilzen, Aus­tria. He shot clean in all four shoot­ing rounds on his way to gold, and his vic­tory held Amer­i­can fans in awe.

He took home an­other World Cup podium the next month at the Pyeongchang Test Event, scor­ing the sil­ver in the 10km sprint, and a week later, he won sil­ver in the Sin­gle Mixed-re­lay event with team­mate Su­san Dun­klee at the IBU World Cup in Kon­ti­o­lahti, mark­ing the U.S.A.’S first team medal in 23 years. The duo took home bronze in the same event at the IBU Open Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships on Jan. 28, 2018 at Rid­naun-val Ri­danna, Italy.

Bai­ley con­cluded his ca­reer at the 2018 US Na­tion­als in Park City, Utah, cross­ing his fi­nal fin­ish line to­gether with long­time team­mate Tim Burke, who also re­tired. Bai­ley and his wife, Erika, are now ex­pect­ing their sec­ond child in July, and are now based in Boze­man, where he is the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Cross­cut Moun­tain Sports Cen­ter.

Team USA cel­e­brates Low­ell Bai­ley's his­toric gold medal.

Low­ell Bai­ley made his­tory in 2017, win­ning the U.S.A.'S Biathlon Worlds gold medal.

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