SOCHI, Russia (February 17, 2014) – Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.) placed a historic 12th - the top individual finish for a U.S. woman in Olympic competition - in tonight’s 12.5-kilometer mass start event. Dunklee’s time of 36:57.9, with three penalties, was the sixth fastest skiing time in the field of 30 competitors. The race also marked the first time a U.S. woman has qualified for an Olympic mass start.
“Tonight was my first mass start qualification in two years, so I was really excited to even be in the running,” said Dunklee. “My ski speed has been so strong this week, I felt really confident going into the starting loop.
I’ve had some of my best results of the season this past week. It’s definitely not as high as it could have been. I think I realized I was seriously in contention in a few of those races, and that’s a cool thing to know,” she added.
Darya Domracheva of Belarus won gold with a time of 35:25.6/+1, becoming the first woman to win three individual Gold medals in a single Olympic Winter Games. Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic took silver (35:45.8/+1), and Norway's Trini Eckhoff won the bronze medal (35:52.9/+1).
Previously, Joan Smith had the top finish for Team USA’s women in Olympic competition with a 14th in the 15k in the 1994 Lillehammer Olympic Winter Games.
Olympic competition resumes at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center tomorrow with the men’s mass start at 5:30am (ET). The competition, originally scheduled for Sunday, was postponed twice due to heavy fog at the venue. Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY) and Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) will race for Team USA.
“I'm ready to go for tomorrow,” said Bailey. “The conditions are improving by the minute and I think we have a good chance for a start tomorrow. With regard to the recent fog and the resulting postponements, I was prepared for something like this to happen. You always hope for perfect race conditions but you have to prepare for everything in this sport. This season has prepared us well. We've had postponements and cancellations due to extreme winds and quite a lot of other adverse weather conditions. You just have to roll with it and be ready when the starting gun finally does go off.”