Photo: Stanko Gruden/Getty

We’re just under a year away from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, but it’s not too early to meet America’s newest winter sports hero. This afternoon in Hochfilzen, Austria, Lowell Bailey won the 20 km biathlon world championships and became the first American to win a world title in the 59 years of the competition.

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Biathlon is a hybrid sport that combines shooting and cross-country skiing, and as you’d expect, it’s historically been dominated by frost-bound European nations. Canada’s three medals are the only Olympic medals won by a non-European nation. The only time a non-European had won a world title before today was Canadian Myriam Bedard’s 1993 win.

Until today, that is, when Bailey beat Ondrej Moravec by 3.3 seconds. He went 20-for-20 in the shooting rounds and finished the whole thing in 48 minutes and 7 seconds. Here he is crossing the finish line.

I don’t quite understand these highlights, but they are extremely exciting.

Bailey almost retired last year after he and his wife had their first child, but with his win today, he qualified for the 20 km event at the 2018 Olympics. Here’s to a repeat victory (hopefully) in Korea.