Home Cookin'! Dunklee Serves Up Silver Medal in Presque Isle

Photos from the men's and women's sprints on Feb. 11, 2016, at the BMW IBU World Cup 8 in Presque Isle, Maine

Feb. 11, 2016, 2:10 p.m. (ET)

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (February 11, 2016) - Just five days removed from a last-place finish in the mass start, Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.) rebounded in style Thursday with a career-best silver-medal performance in the women's sprint at the BMW IBU World Cup 8 in Presque Isle, Maine. It was the first World Cup held on American soil in four years and the Vermont native certainly gave the partisan crowd plenty to cheer about. 

Dunklee was one of only eight competitors in the 88-woman field to hit all 10 targets on the shooting range as she completed the 7.5-kilometer course in an even 20 minutes and 20 seconds, putting her 17.8 seconds behind winner and World Cup points leader Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic, who also shot clean with a time of 20:02.2. Third place went to clean-shooting Krystyna Guzik of Poland, 19.1 seconds behind Soukalova.

The 13th skier out of the start house, Dunklee cleaned from the prone position to take the lead out on the course, 0.8 seconds ahead of Soukalova who started before her. Both competitors also cleaned from the standing position but Soukalova proved to be faster on the skis this day as she cruised to victory. The podium finish for Dunklee, two days shy of her 30th birthday, puts her 21st in the World Cup rankings and in a good position for tomorrow's 10km pursuit in which the athletes start in order of their sprint finishes. Dunklee will begin the pursuit 17.8 seconds after Soukalova.

"I still can't stop smiling," said a beaming Dunklee after the race. "To put together a perfect World Cup race and my career-best result here on American soil is almost too much to dream for. After some struggles in Canmore, I was looking for a way to mentally reset. When I got here on Tuesday and saw the course with its steep climbs and tricky transitions, I knew right away that this was a good course for me."

Dunklee also felt the love of the American fans in the crowd in Presque Isle today.

"The stands today were filled with our best cheering squad ever -- busloads of school kids chanting 'USA! USA!' They gave me extra energy to fight on that last loop. This medal belongs to the entire U.S. biathlon community - our athletes, our staff, our fans, and to all the young athletes out there who love winter."

Also qualifying for Friday's pursuit with strong races were Hannah Dreissigacker (Morrisville, Vt.) and Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine). Both U.S. athletes hit nine of 10 targets with Dreissigacker finishing 27th (21:35.9) and Egan crossing the line 32nd (21:40.7). Twenty-year-old Maddie Phaneuf (Old Forge, N.Y.) narrowly missed making the top-60 cutoff for the pursuit with a 65th-place finish, with just two penalties and a time of 22:44. Full women's sprint results are available here.

The U.S. men's team will also send three competitors to the start line of tomorrow's pursuit as they posted three top-20 finishes in today's 10km sprint. Twenty-year-old Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H.) paced the effort in 13th place with one penalty and a time of 25:55. He was closely followed by Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) in 15th (26:01.2/+1) and Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) in 20th (26:11.5/+2). Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.) missed the cut for the pursuit in 65th place with three penalties and a time of 27:41.4. Full men's sprint results are available here.

"I am very happy with the result today," said Doherty. "The course conditions were very good and our skis were excellent. I am hoping to carry the momentum into the pursuit."

"It was a tricky race today, with patches of ice on some of the corners, and a difficult range approach," Bailey commented. "The wind is also shifty here, and even though it wasn't that strong today, it requires a lot of focus to make sure you are reacting accordingly. I'm happy with the result... I can't remember the last time we had three men in the top 20. Tomorrow should be fun!"

Johannes Thingnes Boe of Norway won the men's sprint in a clean-shooting 24:38.8. Russia's Anton Shipulin also shot clean but finished second, 27.9 seconds back. Third place went to World Cup leader Martin Fourcade of France, with one penalty, 28.9 seconds behind Boe.

"We had great conditions for the race today," added Burke. The course held up very well and there was little wind on the range. These were definitely some of the best conditions that we have experienced all season. I felt pretty good on the ski course today but two penalties is a bit too much for the sprint race. Considering the two penalties, I am happy with a top-20 finish. Tomorrow will definitely be an exciting race and a good opportunity to move up to the top 10 with a good race."

The BMW IBU World Cup 8 continues on Friday with the men's and women's pursuit races. The men's 12.5km event, featuring Doherty, Bailey and Burke, begins at 11:30 a.m. EST, and the women's 10km race, featuring Dunklee, Dreissigacker and Egan, follows at 1:10 p.m. EST. Both races will be streamed live at www.eurovisionsports.tv/ibu.

Women's 7.5km sprint results

1. Gabriela Soukalova (CZE) 20:02.2/+0
2. Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.) 20:20.0/+0
3. Krystyna Guzik (POL) 20:21.3/+0
27. Hannah Dreissigacker (Morrisville, Vt.) 21:35.9/+1
32. Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) 21:40.7/+1
65. Maddie Phaneuf (Old Forge, N.Y.) 22:44.0/+2

Men's 10km sprint results

1. Johannes Thingnes Boe (NOR) 24:38.8/+0
2. Anton Shipulin (RUS) 25:06.7/+0
3. Martin Fourcade (FRA) 25:07.7/+1
13. Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H.) 25:55.0/+1
15. Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) 26:01.2/+1
20. Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) 26:11.5/+2
65. Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.) 27:41.4/+3