Bailey wins first U.S. gold at 2017 World Championships

Young American biathletes can find great inspiration in the performance of Lowell Bailey at the 2017 World Championships in Austria. Watch him win the first-ever World Championship gold for the United States by shooting clean and skiing fast in the individual 20-km event!

Jump to the USA parts (when Americans are on-camera)!

  • 01:10:53 Leif Nordgren (bib #49) — Final shooting round (shoot 4/5; commentator mentions Susan Dunklee as “surprisingly good in the individual yesterday”)
  • 01:25:50 Lowell Bailey (#100) — 3rd shooting round (prone)
  • 01:33:50 Lowell Bailey — Commentators mention his margin and prospects for a medal…
  • 01:35:03 Lowell Bailey — approaching the range for his final round of shooting (standing)
  • 01:35:45 Lowell Bailey — Final round (they mention rarity of left-handed shooters winning this event)
  • 01:37:37 Lowell Bailey — Begins fifth/final 4-km lap
  • 01:42:37 Lowell Bailey — Finish!
  • 01:37:32 Tim Burke (#74) — No footage, but mention of his 2013 silver in the 20-km individual at┬áNove Mesto, Czech Republic
  • 1:46:30 Lowell Bailey — Celebrates with USA Biathlon Exec. Dir. Max Cobb
  • 1:47:35 Lowell Bailey — Gets congratulations from Frenchman Martin Fourcade

Just for reference, Lowell’s elapsed time of 48:07 minutes (with none of the 1-minute missed-shot penalties) means he skied on average at a speed of ~25 km/hr! This win came for him as a 35-year-old, after 18 years “on the circuit.” Prior to Tim Burke winning silver in this event in 2013, the previous best for an American was Josh Thompson who won silver at Lake Placid in 1987.

Other interesting parts of the video:

  • 00:02:45 Description of the weather and animated overview of the 20-km course
  • 00:03:30 Start lists
  • 00:53:30 Martin Fourcade and Shipulin finish, and Norwegian Bjoerndalen and Boe starts (#95, #96)
  • 01:11:34 Ondrej Moravec (#51) — Final round (shoots clean 20/20!)
  • 01:33:16 Johannes Thingnes Boe — Incredibly fast shooting round (4/5)!

Sean Doherty also competed in this race. There’s no footage of him, but he’s listed as starting as #23. Here are the American men in the starting line up:

Commentary from Bob Vallor, President of the Washington Biathlon Association (WBA):

The 2017 Biathlon World Championships have just ended. They have been historic for the United States. Lowell Bailey’s gold in the individual is a best ever for the USA….

Whether it was the best peaking ever done for the USA or what, what happened with Lowell Bailey in Hochfilzen, Austria was an amazing performance by an amazing athlete. After Tim Burke’s rise to the top of the World Cup points list for a time in the very recent past all this bodes well for America and Biathlon.

Bailey won the Individual championship, the first ever World Championship gold for the USA. An awesome feat. And appropriate, as the Individual was the original Biathlon event at the 1958 World Championships and the 1960 Olympics at Squaw Valley (Lake Tahoe), California, USA.

But looking at Bailey’s overall results, it is even more amazing. Behind that great Individual format performance, Bailey was strong throughout these championships.

In the 10k Sprint he was fourth just 6.5 seconds off of a bronze medal.

In the Pursuit he was sixth, just 9 seconds off a medal.

In the Mass Start he was sixth again, 10 seconds out of bronze.

In the Relay, where the USA was seventh, Bailey posted the 18th fastest leg out of 104 legs.

Bailey competed in six races and was in the top ten in five of them. Another amazing result. Only in the Mixed Relay (USA 16th) did he miss the top 10. But there he posted the 19th fastest leg of 50 men despite two hand loaded rounds

Bailey’s shooting in Austria was equally amazing. 20 for 20 in the Individual. 20 for 20 in the Mass Start, 19 for 20 in the Pursuit, 10 for 10 in the Sprint, 10 for 10, with one extra round in the relay and 10 for 10 with two extra rounds in the Mixed Relay.