US Biathlon U.S. competes in wom...

U.S. competes in women's relay at Ruhpolding World Cup

Jan. 14, 2015, 12:29 p.m. (ET)

Photos from the women's relay at the IBU World Cup in Ruhpolding, Germany, on January 14, 2015

RUHPOLDING, Germany (January 14, 2015) - The fifth IBU World Cup of the 2014-15 season kicked off Wednesday with the women's 4x6-kilometer relay. The U.S. team of Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.), Hannah Dreissigacker (Morrisville, Vt.), Annelies Cook (Saranac Lake, N.Y.) and Maddie Phaneuf (Old Forge, N.Y.) crossed the line with three misses and using 19 spares. They finished a lap back of the Czech Republic team of Eva Puskarcikova, Gabriela Soukalova, Jitka Landova and Veronika Vitkova that won today's relay with a time of 1:23:57.7/0+9, pulling away from Belarus (Nadezhda Skardino, Iryna Kryuko, Nadzeya Pisareva and Darya Domracheva) who finished second (1:25:11.0/0+6). The host country Germany (Franziska Preuss, Franziska Hildebrand, Vanessa Hinz and Laura Dahlmeier) took third (1:25:37.0/1+6).

With temperatures just above the freezing mark, a mix of heavy snow and rain greeted the relay teams. Skiing the first leg, Dunklee used two extra shots in both prone and standing to move the U.S. up from their 22nd starting position to 10th place by the time she made the exchange with Dreissigacker.

"We thought we had left the rain behind after last week, but it tricked us and showed up just as we began to zero," said Dunklee. "Conditions changed quickly and the track became extremely slow."

Taking three extra shots at both shooting stages, Dreissigacker tagged off to Cook with the U.S. still holding on to 10th place, but 2:31 back of the leaders.

"The conditions today were tough," Dreissigacker said. "It started raining an hour or so before our race, and then switched to snow half an hour before...big, fat, slow snowflakes. Yesterday, in practice, the course was really hard and fast and it felt easy...and today we were definitely working on the downhills that we tucked down yesterday. But everyone had that problem, so we just had to be tough. I don't think any of us had a great race. We had some rough shooting today. I'm not happy with having used all of my spares, even if I just managed to avoid the penalty loop."

With two misses and three extra shots in prone, and two misses in standing, Cook exchanged with Phaneuf with the team now in 16th, 5:28 back. Phaneuf, competing in her first World Cup event, had a miss and three extra shots in prone, but then turned in the team's best shooting stage of the day at the last standing with just one extra shot. Full results of the women's relay are available here.

Despite the final result, the American team was pleased with the chance to compete in their first relay of the season and welcomed the up-and-coming Phaneuf to her first World Cup race.

"Today's result wasn't our best performance, but we are very happy to field a team, finally," Dunklee said. "We enjoyed introducing our rookie teammate, Maddie, to the exciting and wild scene that is World Cup racing."

"We were just really psyched to finally have a relay team," added Dreissigacker. "Relays are always fun, and its been a bummer to have to sit them out so far this year. We were stoked to have Maddie here, getting her first taste of the World Cup. It was great to race around other athletes and get that practice fighting it out."

The World Cup in Ruhpolding continues Thursday with the men's 4x7.5km relay. The U.S team of Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.), Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H.), Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.) and Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) will be among the 25 nations competing. Live streaming coverage can be seen here starting at 8:30 a.m. EST.

Women's 4x6km relay

1. Czech Republic (Puskarcikova, Soukalova, Landova, Vitkova) 1:23:57.7/0+9 
2. Belarus (Skardino, Kryuko, Pisareva, Domracheva) 1:25:11.0/0+6
3. Germany (Preuss, Hildebrand, Hinz, Dahlmeier) 1:25:37.0/1+6
  USA (Dunklee, Dreissigacker, Cook, Phaneuf) LPD/3+19

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Susan Dunklee

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Hannah Dreissigacker

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Annelies Cook

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Maddie Phaneuf

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