Dreissigacker career-best 14th in World Cup sprint

Photos from the women's sprint at the IBU World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, on March 20, 2015.

March 20, 2015, 11:47 a.m. (ET)

KHANTY-MANSIYSK, Russia (March 20, 2015) - In the final women's sprint of the season, Hannah Dreissigacker (Morrisville, Vt.) turned in a career-best 14th-place performance on Friday at the IBU World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. Her time of 21:15.5 minutes over the 7.5-kilometer course was 1:26.4 off the winning time of Finland's Kaisa Makarainen. Together with Susan Dunklee's (Barton, Vt.) 26th-place finish (21:38.5/+4), both U.S. athletes qualify for Saturday's pursuit competition. In addition, the performances of Dreissigacker and Dunklee secured a top-15 ranking for the U.S. in the Nation Cup standings, ensuring four starters at next season's IBU World Championships.

Makarainen gained more than 12 seconds in the final loop of Friday's race to win in 19:49.1, with a single penalty. Germany's Laura Dahlmeier finished second, also with one penalty, 14.2 seconds back. Darya Domracheva of Belarus was third, with two penalties, 15.5 seconds behind. Full women's sprint results are available here.

A stiff breeze on Friday made for challenging conditions on the shooting range as only two of the 71 competitors shot clean at the 10 targets, but it didn't seem to bother Dreissigacker much as she missed just one shot in prone en route to her best finish since a 16th-place at the Oslo World Cup on Feb. 14.

"I was not expecting a new best result with one miss, but I guess the whole field struggled a bit with the shooting, so it was better than I thought," said Dreissigacker. "I had a frustrating world championships, not shooting well the whole time, so I'm just really happy to now be able to end the season on a better note. And, I'm psyched for the pursuit tomorrow!"

The wind did seem to affect Dunklee on the range today as she missed one target in prone and three in standing, but made up for the lost time in the penalty laps by posting the fifth-fastest course time in the field.

"Today's sprint was our last opportunity to score team Nation Cup points and we had a close battle going for the top 15," Dunklee said. "We fought for every place. I am so proud of Hannah putting together her career-best result today and we sealed 15th. I probably sound like a broken record after last week -- my ski shape feels phenomenal right now and would put me in a very high position if I were to shoot well. Unfortunately, the standing got the best of me this time."

Saturday's competition begins with the men's 12.5k pursuit at 5:30 a.m. EDT, and features Americans Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn,), Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) and Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.), followed at 9:00 a.m EDT with the women's 10k pursuit. A live stream of both races can be seen on Eurovision here.

Women's 7.5km sprint

1. Kaisa Makarainen (FIN) 19:49.1/+1
2. Laura Dahlmeier (GER) 20:03.3/+1
3. Darya Domracheva (BLR) 20:04.6/+2
14. Hannah Dreissigacker (Morrisville, Vt.) 21:15.5/+1
26. Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.) 21:38.5/+4