Q&A with Lowell Bailey

Q&A with Lowell Bailey

Team USA biathlete Lowell Bailey poses in studio with his competition rifle

Where did you grow up?
Lake Placid, New York

What’s something people would be surprised to learn about being an elite biathlete?
It is a full-time career path, just like any other professional pursuit (e.g. lawyer, doctor, teach). We rely on the financial support of the USOC and any personal sponsors, as well a prize money, to make our way in life, to pay for mortgages, save for our children’s college educations, and save for retirement; just like any other 35-year-old working-class American. It’s difficult, and you have to be creative, but it’s worth it.

Who has had the biggest influence on your life and athletic career?
My wife, Erika. She has supported and encouraged me to continue into my 30s. Without her encouragement, I would never have continued, and would never have become World Champion as a 35-year-old.

You recently became a parent in 2016?
Yes. Ophelia was born in June.

How has life as a biathlete changed since becoming a parent?
We travel on the biathlon World Cup as a family unit. Family is the most important thing in my life. I could not do what I do without my wife’s help and my family’s support.

What is your first memory of watching the Olympics? 
[Watching 8x Olympic cross-country skiing gold medalist] Bjorn Daehli at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics.

What is your favorite perk of being an Olympic athlete?  
Competing at an elite level with the best in the world.

Who are your biggest rivals? Is it friendly or contentious?
Top 10 World Cup competitors. It is friendly with a high level of sportsmanship.

Have you become close friends with any competitors from other countries?
Yes. Erik Lesser [from Germany], Michal Slesingr [from the Czech Republic] and Martin Fourcade [from France].

Within the biathlon world, who has had the biggest impact on you?
[U.S. Biathlon Head Coach] Per Nilsson

What will success look like for you in PyeongChang?
An Olympic medal.

Did anyone ever try to dissuade you from pursuing your goals in biathlon?
Yes. Lab technicians analyzing my genetic data markers. I am not genetically talented when compared to the average VO2 of world cup competitors. I’ve had to struggle with low testing results, and just decided that I would try my hardest and see where that led.

Do you have any hidden talents?
I play and perform music. Play in two bands in Lake Placid. Have recorded on four albums.

Do you have another full-time job you have to juggle with training?
Yes. I’m the Executive Director for Crosscut Mountain Sports Center, [a recreation and training center for Nordic sports] in Bozeman, MT.

What is your typical day like when you’re in Olympic training mode?
I wake up, work on the computer for Crosscut until 8:00am. Then head to training – roller skiing and shooting for 2-2.5hrs. After lunch at the Olympic Training Center, I head home, work for 2-3 hours for Crosscut, then head out for afternoon training – roughly 2 hours biking/running/skiing/roller skiing. I’m home by 7pm. I also try to play music some nights with a local band.

How much sleep do you need to feel your best?
8-9 hours a night.

Is there anything you do for training that’s out of the ordinary? 
I do a lot of visualization; going through the season’s upcoming races, rehearsing them as I train, trying to put myself in that particular location – in my head.

What is your favorite non-skiing or shooting workout you do?
I enjoy a good long mountain run with my wife, Erika.

What are some of your favorite workout songs?
The Band – Ophelia, Punch Brothers – Familiarity, Little Feat – Two Trains, Steely Dan – Kid Charlemagne, Leftover Salmon – Fireline.

Karaoke is popular in South Korea. What would you sing if asked to get on stage?
A rock anthem from the 80’s… probably “Paradise City” [by Guns ‘N’ Roses].

Do you have a personal motto?
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

What do you like to do in your time off?
Fly fishing in the day. Playing music at night.

How about any fears?

What is your favorite social media platform?
Twitter. Succinct, efficient, and easy. [Follow @Lowellcbailey]

Do you have any favorite professional sports teams?
New York Giants. I also like how Peyton Manning had the commitment to maintain dominance by hard work in light of his advanced age.

Are you fluent in any languages other than English?
German…learned from 20 years of international competition.

What’s the coolest thing about biathlon that people typically miss?
We are the largest spectator Winter Olympic sport in Europe, with over 100 million TV viewers annually and routinely 30-40k spectators per race.