Vermont biathlete Susan Dunklee placed a season-best 20th Thursday to lead the U.S. contingent during a 15-kilometer World Cup event in Antholz, Italy.
The 34-year-old Barton product went 19 of 20 on the range and held her ground during the skiing portion of the individual competition.
“I tried to channel my inner Chloe Levins, who inspired the team earlier this week with a clean individual on the IBU Cup,” Dunklee said to U.S. Biathlon. “The last shot got away from me but I’m very happy with my performance.”
Austrian Lisa Theresa Hauser claimed her first World Cup victory. The 27-year-old missed one shot.
Ukraine’s Yuliia Dzhima wound up second and was the only competitor to make every shooting attempt. France’s Anais Chevalier-Bouchet finished third.
Craftsbury Green Racing Project standout Clare Egan placed 47th. Joanne Reid (71st) and Deedra Erwin (80th) rounded out the U.S. finishers.
Dunklee graduated in 2004 from St. Johnsbury Academy, where she was a multi-sport star. She went on to compete in skiing, cross-country running and track and field for Dartmouth College. After graduating, Dunklee joined the U.S. Biathlon development program at the age of 22 in Lake Placid, N.Y.
She placed fifth at 2012 biathlon world championships during the individual race. After building more momentum, she finished the 2017 season ranked 10th in the World Cup standings.
The Craftsbury Green Racing Project athlete captured the sliver medal in the mass-start event at 2017 world championships. Last year she claimed a world championship silver medal during a sprint in Antholz. Her father Stan raced for the U.S. Nordic team at the 1976 and 1980 Winter Games.
Dunklee is 54th in the World Cup standings with 46 points. Egan is tied for 24th with 198 points, while Reid is 60th with 31 points. Norwegian teammates Marte Olsbu Røiseland (589 points) and Tiril Eckhoff (583 points) lead the standings.
Norway owns the top four spots on the men’s side, led by Johannes Bø (618 points), Sturla Holm Lægreid (564 points), Tarjei Bø (511 points) and Johannes Dale (499 points). The top U.S. men are Leif Nordgren (49th, 31st), Sean Doherty (61st, 19 points), Craftsbury’s Jake Brown (67th, 11 points) and Paul Schommer (77th).
Racing will resume Friday with a men’s 20k individual event. Saturday’s action will kick off with a 12.5k mass start for the women. A men’s 4x7.5k relay will take place later in the day.
The final races Sunday will be a 4x6k relay for the women and a 15k mass start for the men. The U.S. crew will then head to Pokljuka, Slovenia, where world championships are set to begin Feb. 10.
The men’s world championships will have a 10k sprint, a 12.5k pursuit, a 20k individual, a 4x7.5k relay and a 15k mass start. The women’s lineup includes a 7.5k sprint, a 10k pursuit, a 15k individual, a 4x6k relay and a 12.5k mass start. There will also be a mixed 4x7.5k relay and a mixed 6x7.5k relay.
ALPINEStarksboro’s Ryan Cochran-Siegle straddled a gate during Thursday’s training run but still has plenty of momentum heading into two downhill events and one super-G showdown in Kitzbuehel, Austria.
The 2010 Mount Abraham graduate was the fastest skier during the first day of training, prevailing by 0.35 seconds. Travis Ganong (second) and Jared Goldberg (fifth) were close behind for the U.S. crew.
“I’m feeling comfortable with my skiing at the moment, so anything is possible,” Ganong said on Twitter. “(I) just have to stay focused and enjoy the ride.”
Cochran-Siegle will start 13th during Friday’s downhill race, while Ganong will head out in the 14th spot. Bryce Bennett (18th), Goldberg (24th) and Sam Morse (51st) will also represent the U.S. in the 55-skier field.
Cochran-Siegle made his first World Cup podium appearance earlier this season, placing second during a downhill event in Val Gardena, Italy. The next weekend he placed first in a World Cup super-G and was seventh during the downhill competition in Bormio, Italy.
France’s Alexis Pinturault sits atop the men’s heap with 778 points, while Cochran-Siegle is 10th with 307 points. Tommy Ford (18th, 200 points), Ganong (49th, 98 points), Goldberg (63rd, 59 points) and River Radmus (73rd, 39 points) have also paced the U.S. squad. Ted Ligety (101st, 17 points), Luke Winters (119th, eight points) and Morse (135th, two points) each cracked the top-30 as well this season.
U.S. standouts Breezy Johnson and Jacqueline Wiles are racing in a women’s downhill Friday in Crans Montana, Switzerland. The leaders in the season-long standings are Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova (775 points), Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin (715 points) and Italy’s Marta Bassino (623 points). Former Burke Mountain Academy star Mikaela Shiffrin is fourth with 565 points.
Johnson (16th, 180 points), former University of Vermont star Paula Moltzan (18th, 161 points) and Nina O’Brien (31st, 97 points) are also attempting to crack the top 30. Keely Cashman (51st, 55 points) is another U.S. weapon along with A.J. Hurt (72nd, 26 points), Wiles (76th, 21 points), Katie Hensien (89th, 13 points), Isabella Wright (94th, 11 points) and Lila Lapanja (103rd, six points).
FREESTYLEShelburne’s Megan Nick returns to action in Moscow, Russia after claiming first place last week.
The 24-year-old became the first U.S. woman to win a World Cup aerials event in three years, defeating two Olympic gold medalists and the reigning World Cup champ. She placed second in a pair of World Cup events last season.
Nick will be joined by teammates Winter Vinecki, Ashley Caldwell, Kaila Kuhn, Dani Loeb and Megan Smallhouse. Chris Lillis, Eric Loughran, Justin Schoenefeld and Quinn Dehlinger will compete for the U.S. men.
CROSS COUNTRYStratton Mountain T2 Elite skier Jessie Diggins recently became the first North American to win the grueling eight-stage Tour de Ski.
This weekend the U.S. squad will attempt to carry that hot streak to Lahti, Finland for weekend racing. Saturday’s format will be a 15k skiathlon for the men and a 30k skiathlon for the women. Sunday will feature a 4x5k women’s relay and a 4x7.5k men’s relay.
Diggins is the overall World Cup leader with 932 points. Russia’s Yulia Stupak is second with 802 points, while U.S. skier Rosie Brennan (794) is third.
Not far behind for the U.S. are Hailey Swirbul (20th, 246 points), Peru’s Sophie Caldwell Hamilton (26th, 152 points) and Landgrove’s Katharine Ogden (36th, 98 points). Teammate Julia Kern is 37th with 97 points, while Craftsbury’s Caitlin Patterson is 61st with 21 points. Hannah Halvorsen has 16 points and is 66th overall.
Russia’s Alexander Bolshunov (1,297 points) leads the men’s rankings by 666 points over fellow Russian Ivan Yakimushkin. France’s Maurice Manificat (588) is third.
The top U.S. skiers are Gus Schumacher (27th, 148 points), former Middlebury College star Simi Hamilton (42nd, 90 points) and Kevin Bolger (45th, 81 points). Their teammates include Logan Hanneman (58th, 51 points), former University of Vermont skier Scott Patterson (67th, 33 points) and James Clinton Schoonmaker (69th, 31 points).