Lowell Bailey Wins 20K Individual; First World Champion for USA
Clean-shooting Lowell Bailey of the USA became the first World Champion from the USA when he won the men's 20K individual Gold medal in 48:07.4. This was also the 35-year-old Bailey's first-ever career victory. The Silver medal went to Ondrej Moravec of Czech Republic, 3.3 seconds back. France’s Martin Fourcade, winner of the last four major individual titles won the Bronze medal, with two penalties, 21.2 seconds back.
Last year's Bronze medalist Sergey Semenov of Ukraine was fourth, with one penalty 45.5 seconds back. Germany’s Erik Lesser was fifth, with one penalty, 49.1 seconds back. Czech Republic’s Michal Krcmar shot clean but was not quite fast enough and finished sixth, 52.3 seconds back.
Fourcade Leads Despite Two Penalties
The first man out of the start gate was Russia’s Anton Shipulin; he won the last Individual in Antholz, but his two prone misses threw him out of medal contention. Fourcade started with bib number 4; he set the pace early in the competition, despite penalties in the two prone stages.
At one point, it looked like the man to challenge Fourcade would be Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe, who took the lead after the second stage,but the Norwegian star, although skiing well had penalties in the last two stages and fell back.
20-for-20 For the Victory
Instead off the big names, Moravec shot clean for the first time in an individual and finished with a comfortable lead. as he waited in the leader's lounge, Bailey was making his bid for his first victory dropping the first fifteen targets to take the lead by 12 seconds over Moravec. The Lake Placid New York native calmly hit the last five shots, leaving with a 6.4 second lead. As he went through the easier part of he 4k loop, he lost a few seconds, until with 1100 meters to go, he had just a.1 second lead. Over the finals stretch, he clawed back time and sprinted across the finish line with his first career victory and Each mark his lead was decreasing, and the crowd witnessed nail-biting battle in finish area. Bailey held on to win his first title.
Regarding the last loop, he commented, “The last loop felt like it was 40K , not 4K.I was fortunate that I was one of the last starters, I had every member from our stuff shout their heads off at me. I thought to myself, “Don’t let the medal go away, just keep going.”
Bailey was overwhelmed with his victory. “I am waiting for someone to wake me up. It’s all clichés: 'it’s unbelievable, it’s like a dream.' It means so much because of all the hard work that went into this medal and all of the support that I've had; it all have paid off.”
He added on what this medal means for him and his team, “It is special for me to share this medal with the staff from our team. I am just so happy that I am here with this team; I could not have done it without them...I have wanted a WCH medal for so long. It’s still sinking in.
Moravec Happy for Bailey
silver medalist Moravec was happy for Bailey.“I was exciting, in the beginning it looked better for me, but I am so happy for his Gold medal. He is a good guy and he deserves it. Today I was the closest ever to the Gold medal. I never shot clean in Individual, so I didn’t think so. I am really satisfied that I did it, it was the right race for me today."
Fourcade "Tried to be Too Good"
Fourcade said it was hard to predict being on the podium. “It’s never easy to bet on your position when you have 100 guys following you. I was not sure about the medal, so I am satisfied.”
He explained his shooting mistakes, “Sometimes you try to be too good. In the sprint, it was the same situation. In the pursuit, I didn’t have the thoughts about having to shoot clean and it worked.”