By Craig Bohnert | March 12, 2017, 1:20 p.m. (ET)
Susan Dunklee (L) and Lowell Bailey celebrate their single mixed relay world cup silver medal on March 12, 2017 in Kontiolahti, Finland.

 

Susan Dunklee and Lowell Bailey, the first two athletes to earn a spot on the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team, combined forces to win silver Sunday in the single mixed relay biathlon world cup in Kontiolahti, Finland.

It marked US Biathlon’s first team medal in 1994, when the U.S. women won a relay world cup medal in Canmore, Alberta.

The duo covered the course in 32:07.9, 32.8 seconds behind the winning team of Lisa Hauser and Simon Eder of Austria. Riding Eder’s strong skiing to the victory, the Austrians left behind a three-way battle for a podium position between the U.S., Germany and France that boiled down to which team would perform better in the shooting phase.

Fresh off historic medal performances at last month’s world championships, Dunklee and Bailey matched the Austrians with only five misses, while Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier and Roman Rees, leaders in the world cup standings, missed six targets, leaving them 0.5 seconds behind the Americans. France’s Anais Chevalier and Jean Guillaume Beatrix missed eight times and finished fourth, 3.7 seconds away from silver.

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Sunday’s performance is the latest in a string of recent success for Team USA. Sparked by Bailey’s historic world championships gold medal in the 20-kilometer individual last month, the first by any American in biathlon, and Dunklee’s mass start silver, the first individual world medal by an American woman, the team has been riding a wave of confidence to close out the world cup circuit.

Bailey scored a sprint silver in the Olympic test event world cup March 3 in PyeongChang to solidify his status as a medal contender next February, while Dunklee recently racked up a string of four top-five finishes in five races.

The biathlon world cup concludes March 17-19 in Oslo, Norway.