Lowell Bailey '05
Olympic athlete, Sochi competitor in winter biathlon
- By Megan Morley Thomas
Among all the sports in which precision battles tension, golf comes immediately to mind. Tiger Woods stands over a thirty-foot putt at the final hole of a major tournament, championship riding on the stroke, a hushed gallery of thousands circling the green. Incredibly difficult, right? Now let’s make Tiger sprint up the fairway rather than walk; get his heart pounding to 180bpm; encourage the hoards of genteel golf fans to scream all they like; add some heavy snowfall; and, finally, dispense with the endless angle analysis and caddie counsel and, without pause, just putt the damn ball.
No disrespect, golfers. But winter biathlon, which combines Nordic skiing and target shooting, takes it to a different level on the grace-under-pressure gauge. UVM alumnus Lowell Bailey ’05, is among the world’s elite in this event and will compete for the United States in his third Olympics when the games get under way in Sochi, Russia, in February.
While biathlon is a relatively obscure sport in the United States, that’s far from the case in the 2014 Olympics’ host country or throughout much of Europe. At World Cup races, crowds of forty-thousand will fill the stadiums where athletes loop in to shoot, and the European television audiences rival the numbers who watch the NBA Finals in the United States. While acknowledging some bias, Bailey says that’s all due to biathlon being a deeply dramatic sport with its combo of red-line endurance racing and precision performance.