SOCHI, Russia – Susan Dunklee (Barton, VT) finished 14th in the 7.5-kilometer sprint (21.48.3, with one penalty) to post the top Olympic sprint finish ever by a US woman. Dunklee’s performance also ties Joan Smith (14th in 1994 15K) for the best individual Olympic finish by a US woman.
Dunklee was 41.5 back from Anastasiya Kuzima (SVK) winning back-to-back Olympic championship titles in the event with a time of 21:06.8 and clean shooting. The silver went to Olga Vilukhina of Russia in 21:26.7/+0, while Ukraine's Vita Semerenko won the bronze with a 21:28.5/+0.
“I had really strong skiing today,” said Dunklee. “I feel like I’m peaking at the right time. Prone felt spot on. In standing it felt like I had it after I took that fifth shot, so that was a little heartbreaking, but I was able to laugh at myself and keep going.”
Sara Studebaker (Boise, ID) placed 44th (22:59.5/+1), Annelies Cook (Saranac Lake, NY) was 53rd (23:23.4/+2) and Hannah Dreissigacker (Morrisville, VT) was 65th (23:55.0/+4).
“It is a really hard course and it’s hard to tell how hard you are going. You really have to work on pacing,” said Studebaker, who had her best performce of the season today. “I think it’s a good course and I’m looking forward to racing the pursuit.”
“I’m so happy that I finished my first Olympic race,” said Cook. “It is the most amazing feeling. I’m bummed I missed two in standing, but it was one of my better races of the season.”
“I’m really happy with how I was skiing, and I’m pretty happy with my first shooting with only one miss, but I had three missed in standing, which is too many for this competitive field,” said Dreissigacker.
Extended results from the 7.5km sprint can be found here. Dunklee, Studebaker and Cook qualified to race in Tuesday's 10k pursuit.
Team USA’s men return to the Laura Biathlon Center tomorrow for the 12.5km pursuit. Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) will start with bib #19, Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY) #35, and Leif Nordgren (Marine, MN) #45. Racing begins at 10am (ET).