When Lowell Bailey finished 35th in the Biathlon men’s sprint on Saturday, it wasn’t the first time he’d crossed an Olympic finish line in the grueling ski-and-shoot competition.
And it wasn’t the first time his mother — a registered nurse who lives in Brunswick — watched him compete.
Bailey, 32, is a Lake Placid, N.Y., native and three-time Olympian who competed in Vancouver in 2010 and Turin, Italy, in 2006. Each time he skied off in the ancient competition, Elizabeth Bailey was there, beaming with pride.
Speaking Friday just hours before she was to head to the airport for a daylong set of flights to Sochi, Russia, Bailey said the travel was logistically difficult, but that it was just part of being an Olympic parent.
“I’m a mom so, you know, I go,” she said Friday, admitting she was only “partially packed” for the trip.
Bailey said she was lucky: Even though the round-trip flight cost $1,300 and room and board a similar amount, she felt there would be others with a lot more difficulty once they arrived in country.
“One of the (American) families just took a chance and rented a house a long time ago,” she said. “Some people are paying ridiculous amounts of money to go.”
She said the cost is being partially defrayed by Procter & Gamble, the consumer products giant that pays mothers of Olympic athletes $1,000, whether they’re going or not, as part of its “Thank you, Mom” campaign.
Proctor & Gamble pioneered the ads — in which mothers were highlighted for having played a large role in the athletes’ lives — during the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Despite the obstacles of global travel and the wellpublicized fear of a logistical breakdown at the games in Sochi, Bailey was undeterred, having followed her son’s competitions and also volunteered in Nepal among her own world travel.
She said she was “a little worried, but it is what it is.”
The U.S. Biathlon Committee was sending someone to the Sochi airport to meet her, she said.
“The transportation stuff is a bit of an issue,” she said, mentioning that Russia might be banning luggage on trains.
But the thrill of seeing her son compete in the Olympics seemed to trump any concern about terrorism. She said she hopes “all the security hype doesn’t affect all that.”
“I’m sure when I get there it will be fun.”
Bailey is a registered nurse who’s taught at Southern Maine Commuinity College’s Mid-coast campus in Brunswick — where she trains students, using Mid Coast Hospital for her clinical rotations — for the past three years.
Her son is a 2005 University of Vermont graduate with a degree in political science and environmental studies who trained in biathlon at the Maine Winter Sports Center in Fort Kent.
The sprint he participated in Saturday is three laps encompassing 6.2 miles. The biathlete shoots twice at any shooting lane, once prone and once standing, for a total of 10 shots. For each miss, a penalty loop of 150 meters must be skied before the race can be continued. As in the individual competition, the biathletes start in intervals.
In a pursuit, in which Bailey was competing on Monday, biathletes’ starts are separated by their time differences from the sprint. The contestant crossing the finish line first is the winner.
Bailey has competed in biathlon since 2001. According to Wikipedia, his best World Cup finish was fifth in the sprint event — twice, in 2011.
ELIZABETH BAILEY is a registered nurse who’s taught at Southern Maine Commuinity College’s Mid-coast campus in Brunswick — where she trains students, using Mid Coast Hospital for her clinical rotations — for the past three years.