In her rookie season on the E.ON IBU World Cup circuit, Susan Dunklee (Barton, VT) led Team USA in today’s 7.5K Sprint with a career-best 17th place finish. Posting a time of 22:04.6 (0+1), Dunklee was just 1:36.9 minutes back World Cup leader Magdalena Neuner (GER) with a time of 20:27.7 (0+1). Kaisa Makarainin (FIN) took second with 20:45.2 (0+0), and Darya Domracheva (BLR) finished third at 20:28.2 (2+0). With her performance today, Dunklee will now race among a select group of 30 starters in Sunday’s 12.5 km Mass Start event.
“The race felt like it went by really fast today and the course was very different than any we have raced this year, with fewer hills. My coach (Jonne Kahkonen) and I did a dry-fire session a couple days ago to dial in the shooting, and we found a couple small things to work on that made a big difference in prone. I am very excited about the result. I knew it was possible if I could only bring all the pieces together on the same day,” said Dunklee.
“It was an exciting day today and really fun to see that we had the whole team fighting for the points. And the frosting on the cake today was Susan’s Top-20,” said U.S. Women’s Team National Coach Jonne Kahkonen. “I can’t tell you how excited I am, and the whole staff is for her performance. The whole performance from the team today was a step-up.”
“It was a super exciting day for the women’s team, said US Biathlon High Performance Director Bernd Eisenbichler. “They went out hard and went for it. Susan’s 17th place is a super result on the track here at altitude. To be 17th, with one penalty is an absolutely super performance that will push the whole women’s team another step forward.”
“The TV broadcasters recognized Susan’s strong showing and covered both her shooting stages, she left the range in 9th after prone, and her finish. This is an outstanding performance and great progress,” added US Biathlon CEO Max Cobb.
Sara Studebaker (Boise, ID) finished 43rd today with a time of 23:14.0 (0+2), Tracy Barnes (Durango, CO) placed 57th (23:45.0/1+0), and Annalies Cook (Saranac Lake, NY) finished 74th (24:27.8/3+2).
The U.S. women’s team was stronger as a whole today, finishing tenth for the day in ISU Nation’s Cup points. Next up for them is the relay on Saturday
World Cup racing continues in Antholz-Anterselva tomorrow, with Team USA’s men competing in the 10K Sprint. Russell Currier (Stockholm, ME) will start 3rd, Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY) at 45th, Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) at 67th, and Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK) in 99th position.