SOCHI, Russia (February 19, 2014) –Team USA - Susan Dunklee (Barton, VT), Hannah Dreissigacker (Morrisville, VT, Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) and Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY) - finished ninth in tonight’s Olympic mixed relay debut with a time of 1:12:20.1(1+13). Norway (Tora Berger, Tiril Eckhoff, Ole Einar Björndalen, and Emil Hegle Svendsen) won gold (1:09:17.0/0+2), marking the 13th Olympic medal for Björndalen, making him most decorated Winter Olympian ever. Czech Republic (Vitkova, Soukalova,Soukup, Moravec) won silver (1:09:49.6/0+7) and Italy (Wierer, Oberhofer, Windisch and Hofer) took bronze (1:10:15.2/0+6). Full results are available here.
“I felt really good about the skiing, I lost a few paces on the range, but I was able to pick people off going up the hill and it felt great,” said Dunklee who led the team with a strong opening leg in 4th place. Commenting on the mixed relay format, Dunklee said “it’s really special to be able to compete as a mixed team. We train together with the guys all summer, but it’s special to be able to race together because we really are one team.”
Tonight’s mixed relay was Dreissigacker’s first. “I had a penalty loop, which is not good in a relay because you get three extra spare rounds. You should be able to hit all the targets with those. I’m not exactly sure what happened. I started in such a good spot. It was such an amazing experience to tag off in fourth. I’m really grateful to my teammate Susan for putting me in that position.”
Coming off back-to-back nights of racing, Burke felt the strongest he has here in Sochi. “My skiing felt the best today that I’ve felt here,” he said. “It was nice to feel like myself again skiing. Yesterday was one of the hardest races that I have ever done. It felt nice tonight because the conditions were so much different and better than yesterday.”
“It’s a tough event, we were definitely medal contenders,” said Bailey who anchored the team to its ninth place finish. “You have to go out there and be almost perfect, and we weren’t today. Our whole team was ready to go. Susan had a great lead off leg; she was hanging with the best in the world and out skiing everyone. All of us did our best and we put it all out there.”
Olympic biathlon continues in Sochi on Friday with the women’s 4x6km relay beginning at 9:30am (ET).