Former Catamount Nordic skier Lowell Bailey '05 took a huge leap toward being
named to the 2006 US Olympic Team with a strong performance at the biathlon
team trials in Fort Kent, Maine that ended on Jan. 3. Bailey, one of three
lefthanded shooters on the Biathlon World Cup circuit, returned to the sport
following his career as a Nordic skier at the University of Vermont.
Below is a story about Bailey's performance in the final day of competition at
the team trials in Fort Kent and another story from the Bangor Daily News about
his rare decision to pursue a college degree at Vermont, rather than compete
full-time as a biathlete.
Bailey was an NCAA All-American as a Nordic skier and also earned academic
All-America honors as a senior at Vermont.
US Biathlon Web Site for complete results: http://www.usbiathlon.org/
Lowell Bailey's "Best Day of My Life" Characterizes Final Competitions in the
TD Banknorth Festival at Fort Kent - Courtesy of US Biathlon Web Site
Fort Kent, Maine, January 3. Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY) crossed the
finish line in the Men?s 10K Sprint today in second place and could only say,
?This is surely the best day of my life.?
Bailey had not won the competition, but had performed solidly over the four
days of competition and finished third in the overall standings in the TD
Banknorth Festival at Fort Kent. The four days of competition will play a role
in nominating biathletes for Torino in 2006 and determined the US Team for the
five remaining Biathlon World Cup competitions this year.
The winners of the two Sprint competitions today were two Anchorage, Alaska
natives, Jeremy Teela and Rachel Steer. The two veteran biathletes did exactly
what was needed today to win. Steer who has been struggling with her prone
shooting had only one penalty (in prone) today and cleaned the standing stage.
?If you have watched me over the past four days, you can see that my standing
is pretty solid, so if I get out of prone with only one penalty (like today),
then I?m happy.? She easily outdistanced second place, Sarah Kamilewicz
(Proctor, MN), who shot clean but finished 32.8 seconds back.
Third place went to Tracy Barnes (Durango, CO), with her first podium result of
the four-day competition. Barnes, with one penalty, was only 2.1 seconds behind
Kamilewicz. Following in close succession were Haley Johnson (Lake Placid, NY),
with two penalties, 39.9 seconds back and Laura Spector (Lenox, MA), also with
two penalties52.8 seconds back. Both Tracy Barnes and Johnson train at the
Maine Winter Sports Center.
US Army WCAP athlete Teela had the same number of penalties (three) as his Maine
Winter Sports Center teammate Bailey. Teela, who yesterday said he was on a
"mission to win or place second" in the final two competitions, sealed the deal
by skiing the 10K course 28 seconds faster than Bailey. Analyzing his race on
the clear 5 degree day, Teela commented, "I knew it would be a lot easier today
if I hit the targets. I am just excited to have this week over."
Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY), third today, has shared the podium positions with
Bailey and Teela the past three days. He had four penalties today and finished
48.6 seconds back. Fourth went to Kevin Patzoldt (Grand Rapids, MN) with one
penalty, 56.9 seconds back, followed by Robert Douglas (Honeoye Falls, NY),
also with one penalty, 1:18.1 back.
The top four men in the overall best-three-of-four results were: Tim Burke,
Jeremy Teela, Lowell Bailey, and Brian Olsen (Minneapolis, MN). Bailey added
further comment on being in this elite group. ?I have dreamed about this
since I was five years old. Tim (Burke) and I have competed together since that
time and it is really a thrill. Speaking for all of us (at a press conference)
I think it really has not sunk in yet. It probably will in a few days when we
get to the first World Cup in Ruhpolding (Germany)."
Rachel Steer, who topped the women's overall results stated, "I still get a bit
emotional when I think about making the team in 2002." The top five women this
week were: Rachel Steer, Tracy Barnes, Carolyn Treacy (Duluth, MN), Sarah
Konrad, and Lanny Barnes.
The Barnes sisters were both thrilled that they will be together the rest of the
winter. "We really wanted to have this experience together. I perform much
better when she (Lanny) is there," Tracy commented. She added, again for most
of the athletes, "Our parents are our number one support system. They may not
always be with us, but we know they are thinking of us and that is very
The US Biathlon Team will leave this week to compete in the Ruhpolding World Cup
next week and the Antholz (Italy) World Cup the following week.
Bangor Daily News Article: http://www.bangornews.com/news/templates/?a=126147
Success in biathlon academic for lefthander Lowell Bailey
Monday, January 02, 2006 - Jessica Bloch, Bangor Daily News
FORT KENT - Lowell Bailey attracts a lot of attention, especially on the
shooting range. After all, it's not often you see a lefthanded athlete at the
highest level of biathlon competitions in the world. It's believed he's one of
only three lefties on the World Cup circuit.
But doing things backward is normal for Bailey, a 24-year-old from Lake Placid,
N.Y., who is competing in the U.S. Olympic biathlon trials. His decision to
leave full-time biathlon training to attend college in 2002 was unusual in a
sport where most of the top athletes finish their degrees after they retire.
Bailey is, in fact, the only member of the U.S. national team to have his
college degree and is in what is likely one or two percent of top biathletes
who have completed a college education, according to U.S. Biathlon development
director Jerry Kokesh.
Bailey, who lives and trains in Fort Kent as a member of the Maine Winter Sports
Center team, even has a hobby that sets him apart. Many of the U.S. biathletes
list outdoor activities as a pastime outside of biathlon. Bailey is a member of
a bluegrass music trio based in New York.
"I do a lot of things that, if there were such a thing as your typical biathlon
stereotype, I wouldn't fit into that mode," Bailey said Saturday morning before
heading out for a light ski.
Bailey's decision to attend the University of Vermont full time definitely
doesn't fit the path of most biathletes. But he calls it the best decision of
his life so far. Two events into the U.S. Olympic biathlon trials at the 10th
Mountain Ski Center, it's looking like a smart choice. Bailey won the
10-kilometer sprint race Friday and was fourth in Thursday's 20K individual,
with the 12.5K pursuit coming up this morning.
An up-and-coming member of the senior national team, Bailey just missed making
the 2002 Olympic team. He competed in Europe that season, but the
disappointment of not making the team stayed with him. Bailey did a semester at
Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., that spring, which opened his mind to the
idea of going to school full time.
He started at the University of Vermont that fall. Vermont offered him a full
scholarship for Nordic skiing and he also continued with biathlon, qualifying
for the 2003 world championships while being named an NCAA cross country
But Bailey felt burned out with a full course load and two sports. Despite being
ranked third in the country in biathlon, he decided to drop the sport entirely
for the year.
"I came up with the idea, what's the most fun? What am I feeling most positive
about?" Bailey said. "And at that moment, I think [staying in school] was the
best decision. It was an opportunity of a lifetime to go to a high-quality
school like UVM. I wanted to make sure I had something else to focus on and
that I could grow in other ways and not just be a biathlete."
Bailey also earned All-America honors for cross country in 2004 and 2005. He
graduated last spring with a degree in political science and environmental
Bailey's full-time return to biathlon meant moving into the Fort Kent home of
U.S. national development coach and Farmington native James Upham, who was also
hosting married biathletes Jeremy and Denise Teela.
Bailey and Upham live a bachelor's lifestyle, complete with a somewhat messy
house and the occasional beer. The two men, along with Teela and biathletes Tim
Burke and Walt Shepard, who share an apartment in Fort Kent, developed a
camaraderie that has translated to their training.
"People come up to me and say, you're so lucky to have this group to train
with," said Bailey, who first raced against New York native Burke as a
7-year-old. "We all push each other in different ways. It's just a whole lot of
fun, no matter whether we're tagging off to each other on the World Cup relay
or we're doing a time trial in the middle of nowhere."
Bailey's results this year have been promising. He had two career-best World Cup
finishes at the first Cup of the season in Oestersund, Sweden, including an
eye-popping 29th in the pursuit and a 40th in the sprint.
His season comes on the heels of workouts with Upham, who helped Bailey get back
to a biathlon skating technique after competing in a classic style in college.
"He learned how to be a very good classic skier, but his skating suffered a
little bit," Upham said. "We had to really work hard last spring and summer
trying to improve the way he moves."
Bailey didn't lose too much from his shooting, however. His coach at Vermont,
Allan Serrano, is a former biathlon coach who encouraged Bailey to shoot as
often as he liked. The Ethan Allen Firing Range is about 25 minutes from
Neither his shooting nor his skiing are affected by his being lefthanded. As far
as Bailey knows, the only other lefties competing at the World Cup level are
Norway's Alexander Os and Greenland's Oeysten Slettemark. It's such a rarity
that German television recently did a piece about Bailey.
Being a lone lefty doesn't present too many equipment challenges. Like most of
the top-level biathletes, Bailey orders a custom-made stock for his rifle. When
he gets the stock, which he orders from Antila, a stockmaker in Finland, he
files the wood down so it's the right height for his cheek.
Bailey turns to his music for relaxation. When he's home in Lake Placid, he
plays in a bluegrass band with his father, George Bailey, and musician John
Known as the George Bailey Trio, the band plays local gigs and recently put out
a studio album of almost all original work called, "Gravity Dance." Lowell
Bailey sings, too.
He's also been known to drag a guitar to biathlon competitions. During the 2003
world championships in Russia, he played at a hotel in front of a group he was
certain included some Mafia members. Upham and Bailey occasionally jam
"It's kind of a hassle to travel with a rifle and 15 pairs of skis and ski
equipment and a guitar, but it's worth it when you're on the road for a couple
of months at a time," Bailey said.
This year, Bailey wouldn't mind an extra trip to Italy for the Olympics. So far,
Bailey's totals in the first two races in Fort Kent have him in the top four -
there are four spots open for the men's Olympic team - but he only has to look
back to 2002 to know he can't rest easy. Four years ago, Bailey finished second
in a sprint at the trials but wound up fifth overall.
His mindset this week? The North Carolina-born, lefthanded college graduate and
part-time bluegrass guitarist just wants to be, well, normal.
"You just do what you know how to do, you have a high percentage of doing that,
and I think that's the route to success," Bailey said. "It's pretty simple, but
that's what I'm trying to do, just maintain normalcy. I've done enough trials
to know that this is a crazy week and the people that can maintain their focus
come out on top."
Vermont Athletic Communications