All-American Guitar-Picking, Songwriting, Ski Shooter

FasterSkierSeptember 13, 2007

During one of my training sessions in 1996 at the Mt. Van Hovenberg biathlon range near Lake Placid, Kris Seymour, the New York Ski Education Foundation coach asked me if I would let these two young guys try shooting and talk to them a little about biathlon. Both Lowell Bailey and his best friend, Tim Burke, then 15 and 14 years old, didn’t say much and kind of looked down and pawed the dirt with their feet as Kris and I got them set up to shoot. They were extremely respectful and attentive. I don’t remember much about that day, besides how quiet they were, and how well Lowell shot. I thought, “man, these kids are intense!” Looking back on it, and after nearly two decades involved in the sport, it might turn out to be one of the greatest days I’ve ever had in the sport of biathlon.

Lowell probably said three words through the whole experience, and he was the talkative one. We didn’t have a left-handed rifle for him, so he shot my right-handed rifle left-handed. From the standing position, he hit 4 out of 5 shots the first time. I’d never seen a beginner hit 4 out of 5 prone, let alone standing, and I don’t believe I have since. And add the fact that he was shooting a right-handed rifle and already a stand-out junior skier, and I knew some day I was going to see this kid in the Olympics, racing biathlon. He had talent – no question.

Fast forward 11 years, and Lowell Bailey has already raced in the Olympics. He’s been in the top 20 in World Cup competition. He’s finished on the podium twice at the NCAA Skiing Championships. He’s shined at the Junior Olympics. He has faced most of the tough decisions that a young American skier with world-class potential has had to face. Skiing or biathlon? College or full-time training? Normal life and career, or the Olympics? The only question left is, no medal, or medal?

Lowell Bailey is an integral part of a Men’s U.S. Biathlon Team that is truly world class. For the first time in history, the men’s USBT squad of four men all have realistic visions of individual medals at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. But more importantly, they have a collective goal of America’s first Olympic biathlon medal — in the relay. They have shown in a short time that they are able and are closing on that goal, leading for the first leg of the Olympic relay in Torino, and staying in the medal hunt through two legs at the 2007 World Biathlon Championships before an ailing Bailey and Jeremy Teela had trouble bringing it home.

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Midnight Sun Adventure Company, in Duluth, Minnesota. He is a former member of the U.S. Biathlon Team and has been the color commentator of the Biathlon World Cup on OLN, FSN, and NESN, as well as at the Olympics on NBC.


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