KONTIOLAHTI, Finland (March 10, 2017) – Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.) continued her torrid racing of late with a fifth-place finish in the women's 7.5-kilometer sprint as the BMW IBU World Cup 8 opened Friday in Kontiolahti. It was Dunklee's fourth top-five finish in her last five races, including her historic silver-medal performance at the IBU World Championships. Team USA also qualified six of its seven athletes for Saturday's pursuit races.
"It's been an incredible run these past few weeks," Dunklee said. "I'm riding on momentum. Sometimes you fall into biathlon funks when you don't succeed no matter how hard you try, and other times you find a groove where it feels easy. I don't really understand it but I do know that resilience and patience are essential in biathlon."
Dunklee's day started with a missed target in prone, making for an uphill battle to the podium, but she was up to the challenge. She turned in the second-fastest shooting time, second-fastest range time and went clean from the standing position to help her cross the line in fourth place. Dunklee was later bumped down to the fifth position by 0.1 seconds by Russia's Daria Virolaynen.
"I kept my focus on the task at hand," Dunklee said about missing the target in prone. "I saved a little energy so I could attack hard on the big wall (on the last loop) and I made up a lot of time there. Tomorrow is another great opportunity. I have several fast people close around me to ski with."
Dunklee's total time was 34.9 seconds back of gold medalist Tiril Eckhoff of Norway who shot clean for her first win of the season, finishing in 19:18.5. Germany's Laura Dahlmeier, with one penalty, was second, 18.3 seconds back. Darya Domracheva of Belarus matched Eckhoff on the shooting range to finish third, 20.4 seconds behind Eckhoff.
Dunklee will be joined in tomorrow's pursuit by teammates Joanne Reid (Boulder, Colo.) and Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) who finished 55th and 59th, respectively. Reid shot clean on the range, while Egan went clean from prone but suffered three penalties in standing.
In the men's 10km sprint held earlier in the day, Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) shot clean and placed 16th, 1:01.1 off the winning pace.
"It was a little bit tricky on the tracks for me today," said Bailey. "I didn't feel completely comfortable on the glazed snow and I don't think I was able to relax and glide on the skis like normal. I like the Kontiolahti courses but today I just didn't feel 100 percent. Luckily, I was able to hit all my targets which helped my final result. Hopefully, tomorrow I can find a bit more reserves in the legs and a little more speed on the tracks."
France's Martin Fourcade broke another of Ole Einar Bjoerndalen's records...this one for most victories in a season...winning the Kontiolahti men's sprint for his 13th win, despite a single penalty in standing, with a time of 22:17. Clean-shooting Ondrej Moravec of Czech Republic almost had his second career victory, but finished just 0.6 seconds back. Third place went to Norway's Emil Hegle Svendsen, who also shot clean, 9.4 seconds behind Fourcade.
Joining Bailey in Saturday's pursuit will be Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.) and Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H.) who placed 43rd and 44th, respectively. Nordgren had two penalties and was 1:36.8 back, while Doherty had one penalty, 1:38.5 behind Fourcade. The fourth member of the U.S. men's team, Paul Schommer (Appleton, Wis.), finished 84th (+3:02.5/+3).
The BMW IBU World Cup 8 continues Saturday with the men's and women's pursuits. The men's 12.5km race starts at 6:00 a.m. ET, with the women's 10km race following at 9:15 a.m. ET. Both races will be streamed live on Eurovision.
Women's 7.5km sprint results
|1.||Tiril Eckhoff (NOR)||19:18.4/+0|
|2.||Laura Dahlmeier (GER)||+18.3/+1|
|3.||Darya Domracheva (BLR)||+20.4/+0|
||Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.)
|55.||Joanne Reid (Boulder, Colo.)||+1:59.7/+0|
|59.||Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine)||+2:07.4/+3|
Men's 10km sprint results
|1.||Martin Fourcade (FRA)||22:17.0/+1|
|2.||Ondrej Moravec (CZE)||+0.6/+0|
|3.||Emil Hegle Svendsen (NOR)||+9.4/+0|
||Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.)
|43.||Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.)||+1:36.8/+2|
|44.||Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H.)
||Paul Schommer (Appleton, Wis.)