She has not skied in France. She has not skied in Banff. She has not skied in Aspen or Sundance. SI senior editor Sandy Bailey has not skied, period. This is relevant only because in her 12 years of chronicling winter sports for various newspapers, she visited all these snowy Utopias to watch others ski. Bailey, who will help assistant managing editor Bill Colson coordinate SI's Winter Olympics coverage in Lillehammer, swears that she has nothing against skiing; it's just that she's not wild about cold weather, heights or traction.
"To be honest, I'm not real thrilled about riding a Flexible Flyer in the front yard with my kids," says Bailey. "But I think that fear helps me appreciate the Winter Olympics more—all the great stories that come from other people conquering their demons. To me it's like a million little snapshots: from the Jamaican bobsledders to Eddie the Eagle to Katarina Witt turning down a date with Alberto Tomba."
"Sandy is tough, but being from Florida, she'll never look natural at any event that involves snow or ice," says SI senior writer Sally Jenkins, a New Yorker who worked closely with Bailey at the 1988 Calgary Olympics when both of them were at The Washington Post. "You always have to make sure Sandy has her mittens snapped to her coat."
While she was growing up in subtropical Tampa, Bailey played on the inaugural girls' tennis team at Hillsborough High, thereby achieving slightly less athletic fame than fellow Hillsborough alumni Doc Gooden and Gary Sheffield. She decided to become a sportswriter after meeting some of the breed through her father, Howard, who was then a bartender. Bailey admits she was originally attracted to the occupation for two reasons: "Sleeping late and going to ball games."
Bailey now resides in Brooklyn with her daughter, Kathleen, 9, and son, Kyle, 6, who are living proof of how their mother often organizes her life by the sports calendar. "I remember I had my first child one week after the Bears bounced the Redskins from the playoffs in 1984," she says, "and I made sure that my second was born in a non-Olympic year."
Bailey wrote and edited for the Post and the International Herald Tribune, in Paris, and most recently was deputy sports editor at The New York Times. She joined the SI staff in September, just in time to help with the preparation of our Lillehammer coverage, and next fall she will become our college football editor. "Sandy is a good writer, and good writers often make lousy editors, but she has a great ear and an understanding of how to edit in a writer's voice," says Jenkins. "She's one of the best editors I've ever come across, plus she's great fun to be with at the Olympics."
Most of the time.
At the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona. Bailey was bunking with four other members of the Times staff when their apartment came under attack. "We were overrun by five thousand hungry fleas," she says. "I guess that's why I'll always like the Winter Olympics better than the Summer Olympics. No fleas."