Team USA 15th in Olympic Mixed Relay

By Bill Kellick | Feb. 20, 2018, 9:13 a.m. (ET)

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (February 20, 2018) – The American quartet of Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.), Joanne Reid (Palo Alto, Calif.), Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) and Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) finished 15th in Tuesday’s mixed relay at the Alpensia Biathlon Centre at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games.

Starting toward the back of the field in the 18th position, Dunklee maintained contact with the lead group as the field came into the prone shooting stage. She needed two spare rounds to hit the five targets in prone, and left the range in 14th place.

“This is an event we know we can do well in if we put together a good leg,” said Dunklee. “I had a couple of misses in prone…that was a little frustrating.”

Dunklee really made up some ground on her second loop of the six kilometer women’s circuit, posting the fastest loop time in the field. When she cleaned in standing, Dunklee had the U.S. in the thick of things in fifth place, just 19.5 seconds off the lead.

“It was fun to be right in the mix,” Dunklee added. “I was closing on the lead group for the first k or so, then by the top of the big hill I kind of ran out of steam a little bit.”

Dunklee made the first exchange with Reid, still in fifth place and 23.8 seconds behind the leaders. Starting the second leg in the top five alongside some of the big names in women’s biathlon…such as Dorothea Wierer of Italy, Laura Dahlmeier of Germany, and Anais Bescond of France…Reid’s game plan was to just keep the team in contention for Burke and Bailey.

“There wasn’t really a chance I was going to improve on whatever Susan handed to me,” said Reid. “The best I could do is try and stick on it and hand them something that they could work with, and that really didn’t work out for me today.”

After cleaning from the prone position, Reid used all three spare rounds in standing and still left three targets upright. That meant three trips around the 150-meter penalty loop which knocked the team down to 18th position.

“My coaches were just telling me to really hang on to the pace, to not push it, and to just try and relax,” added Reid. “And when I’m climbing on the uphills to just stick behind them so I could follow on the downhills, and just come in and shoot as slowly as I need to and try and hit some targets. The first half of the race went great, and then it didn’t.”

Burke made some headway with a clean prone stage but needed all three spares to get through standing. He made the final exchange with Bailey in 16th position.

“The strategy once I got tagged was to try and make up some time and try and get in contact with at least one other team so that Lowell could have someone to chase,” Burke commented.

Bailey turned in a great anchor leg with the second-fastest range time. He used just one spare in prone and cleaned from standing, helping the team back to 15th place at the finish.

“With the relays, you have to put together four solid races,” said Bailey. “We actually had decent performances, it was really just one bad stage. Joanne had a good race otherwise. Susan had a great start, Tim had a solid race, I feel good about my race. Unfortunately, its eight stages, not seven, but I think everyone gave everything they had. That’s the way biathlon goes. Some days go your way and some days don’t.”

Double gold medalist Martin Fourcade became a triple gold medalist with a sterling anchor leg, carrying his French team of Marie Dorin Habert, Anais Bescond and Simon Desthieux to the win in the mixed relay. The French squad used just four spare rounds in their 1 hour, 8 minute and 34.3 second victory. Norway, with one penalty and 11 spares claimed the silver medal, while Italy’s Dominik Windisch outsprinted Germany’s Arnd Peiffer for the bronze medal, finishing with seven spares, 26.9 seconds back.

After a rest day on Wednesday, competition will resume Thursday with the women’s 4x6km relay beginning at 6:15 a.m. EST. The race will be streamed live at http://stream.nbcolympics.com/.

Mixed Relay results

1.

France (Dorin Habert, Bescond, Desthieux, Fourcade)

1:08:34.3/0+4

2.

Norway (Olsbu, Eckhoff, J.T. Boe, Svendsen)

+20.9/1+11

3.

Italy (Vittozzi, Wierer, Hofer, Windisch)

+26.9/0+7

15.

USA (Dunklee, Reid, Burke, Bailey)

+3:31.1/3+9