US Biathlon Dunklee Sprints to 5...

Dunklee Sprints to 5th on PyeongChang Track

By Bill Kellick | March 02, 2017, 11:50 a.m. (ET)

Photos from the women's 7.5km sprint on March 2, 2017 at the BMW IBU World Cup 7 in PyeongChang, South Korea

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (March 2, 2017) – In her first race since winning the silver medal in the IBU World Championships mass start on February 19, Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.) picked right up where she left off. Dunklee raced to a fifth-place finish in Thursday's 7.5-kilometer women's sprint at the BMW IBU World Cup 7 at the Olympic venue in PyeongChang. The entire U.S. women's team seemed to like what they saw in their first race on the tracks to be used at next year's Olympic Winter Games. All four American women shot 90 percent on the range (9 for 10) with three of them qualifying for Saturday's pursuit race.

"It's exciting to see the Olympic courses for the first time," Dunklee said. "I felt patient and relaxed during the race and had a lot of confidence coming off the world championships."

Dunklee had her only miss on the range in standing and her time of 21 minutes, 43.4 seconds was only one second back of fourth-place finisher Kaisa Makarainen of Finland. Germany's Laura Dahlmeier, shooting clean, claimed her eighth individual win this season with a winning time of 20:43.7. Norway's Tiril Eckhoff, also shooting clean, challenged for the win but finished 8.4 seconds back. France's Anais Chevalier matched her rivals on the shooting range to claim the bronze medal, 41.6 seconds behind Dahlmeier.

"The course basically has two big climbs which suits me well," added Dunklee. "Our techs nailed the ski preparation perfectly and our entire team had fantastic shooting with 90 percent hits. We are ready to make this course our course."

Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) and Joanne Reid (Boulder, Colo.) also qualified for Saturday's pursuit by finishing 33rd and 35th, respectively. Both athletes had their lone miss on the shooting range in standing. Egan was 1:59.5 back of the winning time, while Reid came in 2:07.6 behind. Maddie Phaneuf (Old Forge, N.Y.) also had her only miss on the standing stage, but finished just out of the top 60 in 68th place (+3:07.7) and did not qualify for the pursuit.

"As a team we notched our best performance of the year with three in the top 35 and all four athletes shooting nine for 10," said Egan. "It will be an exciting pursuit for Team USA on Saturday."

"It's a damn great day when your entire team shoots 90 percent," added Reid. "This was probably our best collective day of the entire season, which makes us incredibly hopeful for the relay."

With this week's races being held at night, and most of the athletes coming to Asia from Europe, a new set of obstacles are being faced in PyeongChang.

"The jet lag and the late-night racing in Korea are significant challenges," Egan said. "But we are savoring the opportunity to rehearse for next year when the Olympics will follow a similar schedule."

The athletes have also seen their share of weather changes while training on the course this week.

"As for the course, it is a typical hilly biathlon loop, and a combination of heat, rain, snow and now freezing temperatures have made for extremely technical skiing this week," said Egan.

"We've skied on this course three times before we raced it, and every day it was totally different," noted Reid. "The first day it was deep and slushy, making the uphills the major difficulty, and everyone floundered in the slush. The second day it was incredibly icy, and the major downhill on the course was quite difficult and became the defining feature of it. The third day, warm temperatures turned everything back into slush, with an added layer of dirt, and the downhill that was so hard to ski the day before became an agonizingly slow descent, and it took all the recovery out from the course."

However, Thursday's race day posed a new set of challenges for the athletes.

"Race day, too, was completely different from the other days," Reid added. "New snow on the track meant that the skied-in section was so much faster than the rest of the snow that you couldn't stray from the three-foot strip of best line. That's like trying to ski a course on a balance beam, and then shoot at the end of it. It's not easy and it's quite different than what we had done the day before."

Reid acknowledges that experiencing the course in varying conditions can only be beneficial down the road.

"I like to think that now we've seen this course in all its moods we are better equipped for when we return here," she said. "What remains is to work this range in all sorts of wind conditions, because so far it has been fairly constant, and the wind hasn't been a difficult factor. This will obviously not always be the case. What I told Susan the other day about this course is that it would be really great for her. I asked her if she knew why, and she looked at me, waiting. I told her it was because she was a great biathlete. Though courses can play to certain strengths more than others, if you are a great biathlete, any course is good enough. It's much less important what we think of the course than what we can learn from the course when we're here."

At the end of the day, Egan felt bolstered by the team's performance.

"To have our best showing of the season on next winter's Olympic course, despite some extra challenges, proves that the efforts of everyone in our organization are centered where they need to be."

FULL WOMEN'S SPRINT RESULTS HERE

The BMW IBU World Cup 7 continues on Friday with the men's 10km sprint starting at 5:00 a.m. EST. The race will be streamed live on Eurovision. The broadcast schedule for NBC's UniversalHD channel's same-day coverage is also listed below with all times shown as EST.

Women's 7.5km sprint results

1. Laura Dahlmeier (GER) 20:43.7/+0
2. Tiril Eckhoff (NOR) +8.4/+0
3. Anais Chevalier (FRA) +41.6/+0
5.
Susan Dunklee(Barton, Vt.)
+59.7/+1
33. Clare Egan(Cape Elizabeth, Maine) +1:59.5/+1
35. Joanne Reid(Boulder, Colo.) +2:07.6/+1
68. Maddie Phaneuf(Old Forge, N.Y.) +3:07.7/+1

 

Broadcast schedule (all times Eastern)

Date

Eurovision (Live Stream)

NBC's UniversalHD

Mar. 2 Women's sprint 6:15 a.m. Women's sprint (same-day) 7-8:30 p.m.

Mar. 3

Men's sprint: 5:00 a.m.

Men's sprint (same-day): 3:30-5 p.m.

Mar. 4

Women's pursuit: 4:45 a.m.

Men's pursuit: 6:30 a.m.

Men's & Women's pursuits (same-day) 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Mar.5

Women's relay: 2:30 a.m.

Men's relay: 5:45 a.m.

Men's & Women's relays (same-day) 3:30-5:30 p.m.

Related Athletes

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Susan Dunklee

Biathlon
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Clare Egan

Biathlon
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Joanne Reid

Biathlon
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Maddie Phaneuf

Biathlon