Dunklee places 10th, Burke 17th at biathlon worlds

OSLO, Norway – Susan Dunklee of Barton, Vermont exemplified grit and determination in finishing 10th in the women’s 10-kilometer pursuit on Sunday at the International Biathlon Union World Championships in Oslo. It was her best-ever finish in the pursuit at a world championships and comes a day after another career-best world championships performance in the sprint where she finished eighth.

In Sunday’s pursuit, Dunklee quickly moved up with the race leaders in fifth place after shooting clean in the first prone position. Despite a miss in the second prone shooting stage, Dunklee maintained her fifth-place position just 42.6 seconds out of the lead.

However, a disastrous opening stage in the standing position, with three missed targets, knocked her all the way down to 20th and dashed any podium hopes. With only one shooting stage remaining, all that was left was to dig deep and fight for a remote chance at cracking the top 10.

A clean final round in standing moved Dunklee back up to 15th but with only two kilometers of skiing to go. What Dunklee did over those final kilometers has come to define her career as she turned in the second-fastest time in the final lap among the field of 59, passing four other competitors including World Cup leader Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic to cross the line in 10th place with a time of 32 minutes, 41.7 seconds. Her previous best finish in a world championship pursuit race had been 34th at last year’s event.

“Missing three shots after sitting in fifth at the halfway point was heartbreaking,” said Dunklee. “At that point, the leaders had been right in front of me. All I could do after that is bring my focus back to process of racing well by doing the best I could do in each given moment. I was very surprised at the finish to see I had fought my way back into 10th.”

Clean-shooting Laura Dahlmeier of Germany dominated the women’s pursuit to win her country’s first gold medal in 30:49.2. Dorothea Wierer of Italy had two penalties but claimed the silver medal, 48.3 seconds back. Defending champion Marie Dorin Habert of France, with three penalties, won the bronze medal, 57.3 seconds back of Dahlmeier.

Hannah Dreissigacker of Morrisville, Vermont finished 36th with four penalties and a time of 34:32.4. Full women’s pursuit results are available here.

In the men’s 12.5km pursuit, Tim Burke of Paul Smith’s added another top-20 finish for Team USA placing 17th with three penalties and a time of 34:23.8. Burke had been as high as ninth out on the course after cleaning from both prone positions, but the three penalties in standing, including two at the last stage, bumped him down in the standings.

“Today was another solid race for me, I just wish that I could have that last shooting stage back,” Burke said. “I felt better on the skis today and I feel like I executed well, besides that last shooting stage. It was fun to be in the mix up front and the crowd seemed even bigger and louder today.”

Martin Fourcade of France also had two penalties in the final standing stage but it did not stop him from a gold medal hat trick after previously winning the mixed relay and sprint gold medals. His winning time of 32:56.5 put him 20.1 seconds ahead of silver medalist Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway. The bronze medal went to Bjoerndalen’s teammage, Emil Hegle Svendsen, with one penalty, 31.2 seconds back of Fourcade.

Also for the U.S., Lake Placid’s Lowell Bailey was 36th, Sean Doherty of New Hampshire was 45th and Minnesota’s Leif Nordgren finished 52nd.

After two rest days today and Tuesday, the IBU World Championships resume on Wednesday with the women’s 15km individual race, followed on Thursday by the men’s 20km event.

“I’m already looking forward to the individual race on Thursday,” Burke said. “The 20k is my favorite distance and this course suits me well, so it should be another great opportunity.”