Susan Dunklee competes in the Women 7.5 km Sprint Competition at the IBU World Championship Biathlon Antholz-Anterselva on Feb. 14, 2020 in Antholz-Anterselva, Italy.
Susan Dunklee waited until the most important event of the biathlon season to turn in her best performance.
The two-time Olympian won the silver medal in the women’s 7.5-kilometer sprint Friday at the IBU Biathlon World Championships in Antholz-Anterselva, Italy, earning her Valentine’s Day flowers on the podium and getting the U.S. its first medal at the event since 2017. It’s just the sixth time ever that a U.S. athlete has medaled at the world championships.
Dunklee, who turned 34 on Thursday, was also the last one to do it. She won the silver medal in the mass start in 2017, just days after teammate Lowell Bailey won a gold medal in the men’s 20K.
Dunklee finished just 6.8 seconds behind winner Marte Olsbu Roeiseland of Norway, the defending Olympic silver medalist in the event, who finished in 21 minutes, 13.1 seconds. Lucie Charvatova of the Czech Republic was third, 21.3 seconds behind the leader.
It was an unexpected result from Dunklee, given that she’s had a handful of top-10 finishes over the past two world cup seasons but hadn’t reached the podium in any of her races. She has four world cup medals in her career, three of them coming in the sprint, but none since the 2017-18 season.
Timing is everything, however, and she couldn’t have timed this one any better.
Dunklee scored the first perfect 10 of the day on the shooting range on a day when missed shots were troubling athletes up and down the line. While she fell just shy of the gold, the Barton, Vermont, native replicated her best world championship finish ever with the medal.
No U.S. athlete has ever medaled in biathlon at the Olympic Winter Games.
The world championships continue through Feb. 23.