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Bailey stays hot with silver on Olympic course

March 3, 2017
Lake Placid News

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea Two weeks after becoming the first American world champion in biathlon, Lowell Bailey continued his torrid run Friday by winning the silver medal in the 10-kilometer sprint at the IBU World Cup held at the Olympic venue in Pyeongchang.

The longtime Lake Placid resident shot clean to finish 40.7 seconds behind Austria's Julian Eberhard, who also went clean, and 4.7 seconds ahead of France's Martin Fourcade.

"Sometimes you have these waves as an athlete, sometimes you can have the opposite during the training," Bailey said. "Ever since world champs I felt confident. I didn't know what to expect, I just told myself to do my best."

Article Photos

Lowell Bailey, of Lake Placid, celebrates after winning the silver medal in the 10-kilometer World Cup biathlon event Friday in Pyeongchang, South Korea. (Photo — U.S. Biathlon/Nordic Focus)

Conditions were tough for the 103-man field in the sprint, with wind blowing in different directions at the shooting range. As the competition progressed, the tracks got icier and faster, helping Eberhard, Bailey and Fourcade, who all started in the last group.

"It was really pretty challenging today on the shooting range," Bailey said. "In prone it was quite windy. When I took my first shot it was the same wind I had in zero. Then, as I went through the shooting the wind progressively got more and more strong. So as I went through, I shaded more and more toward the left side of the target because the wind was getting stronger and stronger. You had to have a little bit of luck today and definitely in standing the wind died down for me. All in all, I'm really happy with the race. It was much more challenging today than any of the conditions at world champs."

When Eberhard cleared his standing shoot, he left the range with a 20-second advantage over Bailey, which he turned into a 40-second lead with aggressive skiing on the last loop. Bailey said he had no information from his coaches on Eberhard after standing.

"It's a good thing they didn't tell me about Julian," Bailey said, "All information I received was that I was in the first place. I didn't have 40 seconds in me."

The 35-year-old Bailey has missed just one target in his last five races, finishing in the top six in each race. Friday's performance matches his best-ever finish at a World Cup. He also won a silver medal in the sprint during the 2013-14 season in Kontiolahti, Finland.

"The thing about World Cup biathlon is it's so competitive," he said. "There's 50 or 60 guys who could get on the podium on any given race. So it is just those subtle changes that can make a huge difference. For me, when I think about it, I'm surrounded by, in my opinion, one of the best teams in the world. Everyone from our wax technicians, to our sport psychologist, to our team managerit's like a family. When I have a result, I really feel like it's a team result. I think when you have that positive energy it can really boost the team and boost the athletes. You saw Susan (Dunklee) yesterday with a great result. I think the momentum carries."

Bailey will try to bring that momentum into Saturday's pursuit race where he will have to make up 40 seconds on Eberhard while trying to stay in front of Fourcade who will be skiing alongside him right from the start.

Leif Nordgren, of Marine, Minn., will join Bailey in Saturday's pursuit after finishing 37th in the sprint with two penalties, 2:03.7 back of Eberhard.

"For me, the race had some ups and some downs," Nordgren said. "I was pretty happy with the way I skied and I like the tracks here so far. The conditions tonight had a little bit of everythingsome very dry windblown snow, some parts of very wet, slushy snow, and some hard-packed glaze. I'm disappointed in my shooting. I missed the last shot on both prone and standing, which is by far the most annoying one to miss. I'll have to make some adjustments to make sure that doesn't happen in tomorrow's pursuit.

Nordgren also feels bolstered by Bailey's recent success.

"It's really nice to have him performing well," Nordgren said. "It's a great inspiration and I hope we can both capitalize tomorrow in the pursuit."

Other Americans competing in Friday's men's sprint were Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H.) who finished 80th (+3:13.3/+2) and Paul Schommer (Appleton, Wis.) who placed 101st (+4:38.1/+5) in his first career World Cup race.



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