U.S. Women Fight to 17th in World Cup Relay

Photos from the women's 4x6km relay on Jan. 12, 2017 at the BMW World Cup 5 in Ruhpolding, Germany

By Bill Kellick | Jan. 12, 2017, 12:25 p.m. (ET)

RUHPOLDING, Germany (January 12, 2017) - Fielding a full four-person squad for the first time this season, the U.S. women placed 17th in Thursday's 4x6-kilometer relay at the BMW IBU World Cup 5 in Ruhpolding. The quartet of Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.), Maddie Phaneuf (Old Forge, N.Y.), Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) and Joanne Reid (Boulder, Colo.) finished five minutes, 8.2 seconds back of first place, with 11 extra shots.

Starting at the very back of the 23-team field, team veteran Dunklee charged her way up through the pack on the opening leg. A clean prone put her into 11th place exiting the range, just 9.7 seconds back of the lead. Then a strong effort on the skis moved her all the way up to second place behind Finland's Kaisa Makarainen as they entered the standing phase.

"I enjoy the extra challenge of starting at the back of a mass start," said Dunklee. "I'm good at weaving through crowds and it's incredibly satisfying to pass lots of people."

However, needing three extra shots to down the five targets in standing bumped Dunklee back to 12th place, still only 22 seconds off the front.

"Shooting on point two is exactly where I wanted to be at that point in the race, and I felt comfortable there," Dunklee added.

Dunklee was able to move up one spot to 11th place as she tagged off to the youngest member of the team, Phaneuf, for the second leg.

Racing in her first World Cup of the season, Phaneuf showed remarkable poise on the shooting range, needing only two extra shots to down her 10 targets.

"I’m happy to have the opportunity to be racing on the World Cup again," said Phaneuf. "Today's race went okay, the shooting was average for me and the skiing was tough. The atmosphere here in Ruhpolding is so amazing, so that made the racing very exciting. I’m looking forward to race the sprint on Saturday. Huge shout out to the wax techs and staff for some fast skis and support."

The U.S. team was in 16th position when Phaneuf made the second exchange with Egan.

The second half of the race saw Egan and Reid with similar performances on the range as both cleaned in prone, but needed three extra shots apiece in standing. Reid battled with the team from Poland down the stretch but eventually finished just under five seconds behind in 17th place.

"It was wonderful to finally put together a full women's team and we look forward to improving upon today's performance in the coming weeks," said Dunklee after the race.

The German team of Vanessa Hinz, Maren Hammerschmidt, Franziska Preuss and Laura Dahlmeier, with just six spare rounds, thrilled the German fans packed into Ruhpolding's Chiemgau Arena by winning the relay in 1:09:53. France claimed second place with seven spare rounds, 3.5 seconds back to edge the Norwegian team by one second. Norway finished with just a single spare. Full women's relay results are available here.

Competition at the BMW IBU World Cup 5 continues on Friday with the men's 10-kilometer sprint, featuring Americans Russell Currier (Stockholm, Maine), Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.), Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H.), Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) and Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.). Live streaming coverage begins at 8:45 a.m. EST on eurovisionsports.tv/ibu/.

Women's 4x6km relay results

1. Germany (Hinz, Hammerschmidt, Preuss, Dahlmeier)  1:09:53.0/0+6
2. France +3.5/0+7
3. Norway  +4.5/0+1
17. 
USA (Dunklee, Phaneuf, Egan, Reid) 
+5:08.2/0+11

###