U.S. Starts Season With Top-10 Relay Finishes in Oestersund

By Bill Kellick | Nov. 30, 2019, 2:20 p.m. (ET)


Sean Doherty (r) tags Susan Dunklee during and exchange in the single mixed relay in Oestersund on Nov. 30 (photo by NordicFocus)

Oestersund, Sweden (Nov. 30, 2019) – The U.S. Biathlon team turned in strong performances in the mixed relay events on Saturday as the 2019-20 BMW IBU World Cup season kicked off in Oestersund. Top-10 finishes in both the single mixed relay and mixed relay events put Team USA fifth in the Nations Cup rankings after the opening day of competition.

The single mixed relay started the day in Oestersund and the American duo of Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.) and Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H.) raced to a sixth-place finish, 1 minute, 17 seconds behind first-place Sweden, with one penalty and 16 spare rounds, four spares on each leg in the unpredictable windy conditions.

“Going into the season you never quite know how your fitness stacks up,” said Dunklee. “Sixth is an excellent place to be starting and we are excited for the many races still to come.”

The Swedish duo of Hanna Oeberg and Sebastian Samuelsson prevailed with two penalties and 11 spare rounds in a winning time of 36:42.1. Germany’s Franziska Preuss and teammate Erik Lesser had a single penalty and nine spares to finish in second place, 18.1 seconds back. Third place went to the Norwegian pair of Marte Olsbu Roeiseland and Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen, with one penalty and 16 spares, 40.4 seconds back.

Later in the day under the stadium lights, the U.S. foursome of Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine), Joanne Reid (Grand Junction, Colo.), Leif Nordgren (Hinesburg, Vt.) and Alex Howe (Gilford, N.H.) placed eighth in the mixed relay event. The squad was 2:28.1 behind first place Italy with seven spares.

Egan got off to a fast start on the opening leg going 10-for-10 on the range to put the Americans into third place at the first exchange. Nordgren used just one spare on his third leg of the relay, while Reid and Howe both used three spares as the team remained penalty-free the entire race.

The Italian team of Lisa Vittozzi, Dorothea Wierer, Lukas Hofer and Dominik Windisch held off a hard-charging Norwegian team to take the gold medal by just 4.1 seconds. Sweden picked up their second podium of the day in third place, 59.9 seconds back of Italy.

Individual competition begins Sunday with the men’s and women’s sprints. Toeing the line for the U.S. men’s team in the 10-kilometer sprint starting at 6:30 a.m. EST will be Doherty, Nordgren, Howe and Travis Cooper (Kenai, Alaska). The women’s 7.5k sprint begins at 9:30 a.m. EST and will feature Dunklee, Egan, Reid and Emily Dreissigacker (Morrisville, Vt.).

NOTE: Fans can watch same-day coverage of this weekend’s races from Oestersund on the Olympic Channel. Check the times in your area by visiting OlympicChannel.com.

Single mixed relay results
1. Sweden (Oeberg, Samuelsson) 36:42.1/2+11
2. Germany (Preuss, Lesser) +18.1/1+9
3. Norway (Roeiseland, Christiansen) +40.4/1+16
6. USA (Dunklee, Doherty) +1:17.0/1+16

Mixed relay results
1. Italy (Vittozzi, Wierer, Hofer, Windisch) 1:05:56.1/0+9
2. Norway (Tandrevold, Eckhoff, T. Boe, J. Boe) +4.1/0+15
3. Sweden (Persson, Brorsson, Nelin, Ponsiluoma) +59.9/0+11
8. USA (Egan, Reid, Nordgren, Howe) +2:28.1/0+7