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. If you want a thrill, go to YouTube, type in 'pro biathlon' and find the competition and watch it. 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.
France's great and gracious Martin Forcade said something very telling after finishing third behind Bailey in the Individual. He said he was pleased and that it was good for biathlon that someone other than a European took gold. Following up on that, only the great Miriam Bedard of Canada at 1994 at the Olympics had ever taken a biathlon gold by a non-European.
Pyeongchang in 2018? Do we dare dream?