Dunklee Matches Career Best With 5th in Pokljuka Pursuit

Photos from the men's and women's pursuits at BMW IBU World Cup 2 in Pokljuka, Slovenia

By Bill Kellick | Dec. 10, 2016, 10:06 a.m. (ET)

POKLJUKA, Slovenia (December 10, 2016) – Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.) matched her best-ever performance in a World Cup pursuit race on Saturday with a fifth-place finish in the women's 10-kilometer event at the BMW IBU World Cup 2 in Pokljuka, Slovenia.

Starting in the 11th position following Friday's sprint results, Dunklee got off to a blazing start by clocking the fastest opening loop in the 57-woman field. Her early exertion on the skis did not carry over to the shooting range as she calmly knocked down her first 15 targets. Dunklee was in fourth place after cleaning the second prone and moved up to second place, just 0.7 seconds out of the lead, after going five for five in the first standing. She was third in total range time and fourth in total shooting time.

"Ski speed is not 100 percent there yet this season, but it often isn't sharp until February," said Dunklee. "I need to be patient. I was skiing in no-man's land during a couple of loops which is an extra challenge."

Dunklee was in the lead pack of six as they all entered the final standing stage together, but only Germany's Laura Dahlmeier would go clean out of that group. Dunklee missed her first target of the day on the final shooting stage, which sent her to the penalty loop with the other contenders.

"During all the stages I felt very aware of what was going on around me but at the same time I was emotionally detached," Dunklee said. "The miss on the last stage was a well-executed shot, just like all the others, but it landed just outside the target."

After dropping back to seventh on the final loop to the finish line, Dunklee dug deep and rallied for fifth place, 24.1 seconds back of Dahlmeier who recovered after missing two targets in the second prone to finish first in 30 minutes, 43.1 seconds. 

"I love this course with its finishing camel's hump hills," added Dunklee. "I was hurting for much of that last loop, but I knew that if I tried sprinting early I might be able to hang on to the lead of my pack because tactically it is very difficult to pass in the last half kilometer."

Finland's Kaisa Makarainen also had two penalties to finish second, 24.5 seconds back. Czech Republic's Eva Puskarcikova made the podium for the first time in her career, finishing third, 25.1 seconds behind Dahlmeier with one penalty. Team USA's Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) finished 56th. Full women's pursuit results are available here.

See what else Dunklee had to say after today's race...

Earlier in the day the men's 12.5k pursuit was held under clear and nearly windless conditions. Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.), who started in 18th position, maintained that slot with only one miss on the shooting range and crossed the line in 18th place with a time of 32:29.

"Conditions were the best I've ever seen in Pokljuka, and perhaps the entire World Cup circuit," said Bailey. "Still don't have the ski speed I need to compete with the top of the field. I've had a great year of training so I'm hoping the ski speed improves as I work through the season." 

France's Martin Fourcade made it two victories in a row as he shot clean to win the men's pursuit in 30:27.4. Norway's clean-shooting Emil Hegle Svensen outsprinted Russia's Anton Shipulin to claim second, six seconds back. Shipulin matched his third place from yesterday's sprint, 6.2 seconds behind Fourcade with one penalty. Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) was 42nd with five penalties, 4:09.8 back of the lead. Full men's pursuit results are available here.

The World Cup in Pokljuka wraps up Sunday with the relays. The men's 4x7.5k race begins at 5:15 a.m. EST, with the women's 4x6k relay starting at 8:30 a.m. EST. Live streaming coverage of the races can be seen at www.eurovisionsports.tv/ibu. With only three male and three female athletes in Pokljuka, Team USA will not be competing in Sunday's relays.

Women’s 10km pursuit results

1.

Laura Dahlmeier (GER)

30:43.1/+2

2.

Kaisa Makarainen (FIN)

+16.8/+2

3.

Eva Puskarcikova (CZE)

+18.7/+1

5.

Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.)

+24.1/+1

56.

Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine)

+5:32.4/+6

Men’s 12.5km pursuit results

1.

Martin Fourcade (FRA)

30:27.4/+0

2.

Emil Hegle Svendsen (NOR)

+6.0/+0

3.

Anton Shipulin (RUS)

+6.2/+1

18.

Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.)

+2:01.6/+1

42.

Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.)

+4:09.8/+5