Dunklee 11th in World Cup opener

POKLJUKA, Slovenia — In the opening 15-kilometer individual race of the IBU World Cup season in Pokljuka on Thursday, Susan Dunklee, of Barton, Vermont, looked to be in mid-season form. The two-time Olympian placed 11th in the 102-woman field with just one miss on the shooting range.

“This is the best early-season result I’ve had in years,” said Dunklee, who crossed the line just over a minute behind winner Yuliia Dzhima of Ukraine. “The snow was slushy and deep and I didn’t feel strong on the skis so I concentrated on simply keeping a consistent pace.”

Dunklee cleaned her first 18 targets before missing on the 19th from the standing position.

“My shooting felt very stable today and the miss was a well executed shoot that split out,” she added.

It was Dzhima’s first World Cup title of her career as she crossed the line with clean shooting and a time of 43 minutes, 6.6 seconds. Second place, also a career-best, went to Poland’s Monika Hojnisz, with one penalty and 5.9 seconds back. In third place was Marketa Davidova of Czech Republic, also with a single penalty, 16.5 seconds behind.

Elsewhere for Team USA, Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) posted the fastest skiing split of her career as she finished 60th, 4:23.3 back with five penalties. Her time on the third lap of 2:03.3 was 36th best in the field. Emily Dreissigacker (Morrisville, Vermont), with four penalties on the range, finished 69th, 5:17 off the pace.

Earlier on Thursday, a day after being postponed by fog, the men’s 20-kilometer individual race took place. Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minnesota) topped Team USA’s efforts with a 40th-place finish in the 109-man field. He had two penalties on the shooting range, one in the first prone and one in the final standing, to finish 3:24.5 off the winning pace.

“The race went pretty well today, it was a solid start, much better than I’ve had in a long time so I’m definitely happy with that,” Nordgren said. “The results were really tight around me in the finish though, so the two mistakes that I did have were quite costly.”

Martin Fourcade, of France, starting near the back of the field, claimed the victory with clean shooting and a time of 47:09.2. Johannes Kuehn, of Germany, garnered his first career podium in second place, 4.2 seconds back, while Austria’s Simon Eder finished third, 19.7 seconds behind. Both Kuehn and Eder also shot clean.

Following Nordgren in the standings for Team USA were Sean Doherty (Center Conway, New Hampshire) in 59th and World Cup newcomers Max Durtschi (Ketchum, Idaho) and Travis Cooper (Kenai, Alaska) in 102nd and 105th place, respectively.

The BMW IBU World Cup in Pokljuka continues on Friday with the men’s 10km sprint at 8:15 a.m ET, featuring Nordgren, Doherty, Durtschi and Cooper.