PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (February 12, 2016) - The United States Biathlon Team turned in a solid performance on Friday with all six athletes finishing in the top-25 of the pursuit races at the BMW IBU World Cup 8 in Presque Isle, Maine. Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.) set the pace with a fifth-place finish in the women's 10-kilometer pursuit, a day after her silver-medal performance in the sprint, while Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) took seventh in the men's 12.5km race.
Despite sunny skies, frigid temperatures welcomed the athletes on the second day of competition with the mercury registering 3 degrees Fahrenheit at the start of the men's pursuit. Moderate to strong winds made for challenging conditions on the range and really shook up the order of both races.
Dunklee was the second woman to leave the start house, 17.8 seconds behind yesterday's sprint gold medalist Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic. A clean round in the first prone shooting stage kept Dunklee in second and closed to gap to Soukalova, who was also clean, to 11.5 seconds. A miss at the second prone stage bumped Dunklee back to sixth and then the wind at the shooting range really played a factor in the first standing. None of the leaders went clean in standing. In fact, only two of the 58-woman field hit all five targets in the first standing stage. That opened the door for Dunklee who, despite three misses, moved up to third place, 21.5 seconds behind then-leader Dorothea Wierer of Italy.
Wierer, however, had three more missed targets in the final standing, while Soukalova, Kaisa Makarainen of Finland, Krystyna Guzik of Poland and Marie Dorin Habert of France all went clean. Dunklee held on to fourth place exiting the range despite a penalty, but was passed by Dorin Habert on the final lap and crossed the line in fifth, 56.9 seconds behind Soukalova (31:24.6/+3). Makarainen held on for second, with three penalties, 34 seconds back, while Dorin Habert claimed the bronze medal with five penalties, 38.8 seconds behind Soukalova.
"Starting near the front of a pursuit offers lots of opportunity but also can create a lot more pressure," Dunklee said. "What I think I did well today was setting aside yesterday's result and what it meant, and redirecting my focus on what I needed to do to perform well today. As a women's team, we put together one of our strongest showings of all time, and I am very excited to fight with these ladies for a strong performance in tomorrow's relay."
Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) moved up from her 32nd start position to finish 23rd (33:58.6/+3), while Hannah Dreissigacker (Morrisville, Vt.) also improved on her 27th start position with a 24th-place finish (34:06.2/+3). Full women's pursuit results are available here.
In the men's pursuit, Burke jumped up 13 places from his 20th starting position, finishing seventh with a time of 33:09.3 with three penalties. He had the fifth-fastest course time on the day. Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.), who had the sixth-best course time, finished 14th with five penalties and a time of 33:47.6. Rounding out the top-20 in 20th place was Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H.) in a time of 34:09.7 with six penalties.
"I am really happy with my performance today in some very challenging conditions," said Burke. This was the coldest temps that we have raced in all season and the gusty wind made it feel even colder. Three penalties in a pursuit is normally not great shooting, but I was very happy with this today considering the conditions. I fought really hard on the last loop and tried everything to make it to the flower ceremony but I simply ran out of real estate by the end. I feel like I have built some good momentum in the past two weeks and I am looking forward to starting my preparation for world championships. It was also great to see three U.S. guys in the top-20 again today. I think this is a great indicator of the depth on this team."
Martin Fourcade of France came from behind by cleaning the final standing stage to win the men's pursuit with two penalties in 31:04.4. Sprint winner Johannes Thingnes Boe of Norway finished second after a penalty in the final standing stage dropped him out of the top spot, 24.8 seconds back. Third place went to Russia's Anton Shipulin, with two penalties, 1:11.5 back of Fourcade. Full men's pursuit results are available here.
The BMW IBU World Cup 8 continues on Saturday with the men's and women's relays. The men's 4x7.5km event begins at 2:20 p.m. EST, with the women's 4x6km race following at 4:10 p.m. EST. Both races will be streamed live at www.eurovisionsports.tv/ibu.
Women's 10km pursuit results
|1.||Gabriela Soukalova (CZE)||31:24.6/+3|
|2.||Kaisa Makarainen (FIN)||31:58.6/+3|
|3.||Marie Dorin Habert (FRA)||32:03.4/+5|
|5.||Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.)||32:21.5/+4|
|23.||Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine)||33:58.6/+3|
|24.||Hannah Dreissigacker (Morrisville, Vt.)||34:06.2/+3|
Men's 12.5km pursuit results
|1.||Martin Fourcade (FRA)||31:04.4/+2|
|2.||Johannes Thingnes Boe (NOR)||31:29.2/+3|
|3.||Anton Shipulin (RUS)||32:15.9/+2|
|7.||Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.)||33:09.3/+3|
|14.||Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.)||33:47.6/+5|
|20.||Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H.)||34:09.7/+6|