Bailey climbs to first World Cup podium
Lake Placid’s Lowell Bailey took bronze in the 10-kilometer sprint Saturday in Kontiolahti, Finland for his first ever World Cup podium finish.
“It’s been a long time coming. I’m obviously really happy,” Bailey said in a press release. “I’ve been working toward this for over 10, 20 years. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time, and I’ve been knocking at the door for the last three years. This year I’ve come so close a lot of different times, it’s nice to finally do it. I had a pretty specific game plan going into today and I was able to execute it.”
Bailey finished the sprint with clean shooting and a time of 24 minutes, 22.9 seconds, putting him 19.4 seconds behind gold medalist Johannes Thingnes Boe of Norway, who finished in 24:03.5 with clean shooting. Russian Alexander Loginov finished second in 24:22. He also shot clean.
“My biggest goal in that race yesterday was to be decisive and deliberate in the range,” Bailey told SkiTrax magazine Sunday in a phone interview. “And you know, I’ve trained for this sport for a long time, and I know how to shoot and a lot of times you just have to get out of your own way.”
Bailey’s teammate Tim Burke of Paul Smiths finished 19th in 25:13.5 with two penalties and Leif Nordgren of Marine, Minn. was 27th with a time of 25:26.5 and one miss.
Bailey is coming off an Olympics in Sochi, Russia this February where he placed eighth in the 20-kilometer race, which was the best-ever finish for an American biathlete in the Olympics. In the last four years, the three-time Olympian has posted eight top-10 finishes, including a pair of fifth-place results in the winter of 2011-12 when he ended the season ranked 14th in the overall World Cup standings.
“I knew that I could do it,” Bailey told SkiTrax. “I knew that I had the skills. If you look at the data, my coaches and I. We look at everything and it was there. … I just hadn’t had it all aligned for one day. It was really great to have everything fall together. Right down to the wire.”
Bailey is currently ranked 17th overall in World Cup standings with 372 points. Burke is 22nd with 303.
“Everybody on the team is so happy for Lowell’s podium today,” said US Biathlon head coach Per Nilsson in a press release. “Many years of training and professional attitude to the sport finally paid off. The way he carried through the race was fantastic. Being determined and disciplined in a couple of key things works for Lowell as an athlete. The good attack mode he had made his day. We all know the good skills he has as an athlete, and it was great to see him show that today.”
“It is so wonderful to see Lowell standing on the podium today,” said Max Cobb, US Biathlon CEO in a press release. “It’s so exciting to see his years of hard work shine through in his great performance today. Today Lowell joins the very exclusive Podium Club – a lifetime goal achieved. History made. Hats off to the high performance staff, working tirelessly to help the athletes achieve their personal bests every day. Susan (Dunklee) had another strong performance too and Tim and Leif are well positioned for the pursuit on Sunday.”
The U.S. biathlon team will compete next in Oslo Holmenkollen, Norway for a World Cup event that starts Thursday.