Four-time Olympian Lowell Bailey has been named as US Biathlon’s high-performance director.
Long-time chief of sport Bernd Eisenbichler, the architect of US Biathlon’s growing athletic success, announced following the close of the International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Championships in Östersund in Sweden that he is leaving his 20-year tenure to work in the sport in his native Germany.
Lowell will join four-time Olympian Tim Burke, who has taken on a new position as the US Biathlon director of athlete development.
The former team-mates will now be working together to bolster US Biathlon at all levels of the sport, from youth and development through to the national and Olympic team levels.
Throughout the past two decades, Bailey’s and Burke’s increasingly competitive international results have ushered a new era of success for the US.
It is hoped this transition marks an exciting new phase for US Biathlon, with the staff leadership now including the country's top two former biathletes.
"This is a remarkable period for US Biathlon with a season of athletes making career bests happen, a very successful World Cup hosted in Utah, new team sponsors and growing TV exposure and enthusiasm for our sport," Max Cobb, US Biathlon’s President and chief executive, said.
"Bernd has led our programme brilliantly to new heights.
"He leaves us with a strong team and a great staff, which will help us with the transition.
"I know he will remain a great friend of US Biathlon forever.
"With staff like Tim and Lowell leading our efforts, we’ll continue with the same level of enthusiasm and passion for supporting our athletes in the years to come."
A native of the Olympic village of Lake Placid, Bailey capped his career by becoming the US’s first world champion in 2017 when he took the gold medal in the 20 kilometres individual competition.
He joined the IBU Biathlon World Cup tour in 2002, then took a break with a successful career as a college cross-country ski racer at the University of Vermont.
After college, he made his first of four Olympic teams at Turin 2006, spending more than a decade racing on the World Cup.
During his tenure he was a highly respected athlete leader, serving committee or board roles with the IBU and US Biathlon.
He is presently executive director of Crosscut Mountain Sports Center in Montana.
"With our dedicated athletes, an incredibly talented staff and a passionate and supportive Board of Directors, US Biathlon has never been in a better position to build our sport in America, with the unwavering and collective goal of seeing an American atop a future Olympic podium," Bailey, an outspoken critic of the IBU's handling of the Russian doping crisis, said.
"It was my privilege and good fortune to train and compete as a US biathlete during Bernd’s 20-year tenure.
"Starting in 1999, he gradually built a culture of success and positivity that is now the central core of US Biathlon.
"It is such an advantage to enter the high-performance directorship at this high point and I hope that I can build upon Bernd’s impressive legacy."
Burke put US Biathlon in the international spotlight when he became the first and only American biathlete to ever lead the overall World Cup ranking in 2010.
Three years later, he followed up that initial success with a World Championships silver medal.
After four Olympics and more than a decade on the IBU World Cup tour, Burke also retired in 2018 and started a new position as athlete development manager for US Biathlon.
He will now become the director of athlete development, a role which specifically focuses on building domestic programmes, raising the quality and quantity of opportunities for participation in the sport.
"I feel incredibly fortunate to be in a position to help America’s next generation of biathletes," Burke said.
"Biathlon and sport have played such a huge role in my life, and it’s a great privilege to share that passion with our up and coming athletes.
"I am also thrilled to have Lowell joining the team.
"We worked very well together as team-mates and I know we both look forward to collaborating in our new positions.
"We are all sad to see Bernd go, but the impact that he had on this team will be felt for many years to come.
"It was an absolute honour to compete under Bernd as an athlete and to work with him as a colleague during the last year.
"He may wear a German hat in the future, but I know he will always be pulling for our team."
Eisenbichler will leave the programme having developed it at every level.
He joined US Biathlon in 1999 as a ski wax technician, working his way up the ranks.
Highly respected by his athletes, he was named high-performance director in 2007 and promoted to chief of sport in 2014.
"It was a real pleasure and an honour - I am really proud to have worked 20 years with US Biathlon," Eisenbichler said.
"It was a very interesting and inspiring journey together - all the high points we had and all the great people I could work with, I will miss them all a lot.
"It was a very hard decision for me to take but I feel so good that Tim Burke and Lowell Bailey will be leading the sport operations for US Biathlon.
"They were great athletes and are great people.
"They will do an amazing job and build on the foundation that we all made together.
"I will always be cheering for the USA athletes."