On Friday in Antholz, Italy Susan Dunklee of the US Biathlon team captured second place in the 7.5-kilometer sprint at the 2020 IBU World Championships. The event was won by Norway’s Marta Olsbu Roeiseland in 21:13.1 while shooting 0+1 on the range. Dunklee shot clean and was 6.8 seconds back. The Czech Republic’s Lucie Charvatova was third (+21.3; 1+0).
At thirty-four-years-old, this was Dunklee’s best result of the season. Prior to her second place on Friday, Dunklee’s top 2019-2020 result was a 10th place in Ruhpolding, Germany’s 10 k pursuit. As we learned in a February 3, story in FasterSkier, Dunklee has the temperament to be patient when her performances do not align with what she believes is her best. In her 11 years on the national team she has been both resilient and able to pounce for hardware in high-pressure situations.
This was Dunklee’s second World Championship silver medal after placing second in the 12.5 k mass start during the 2017 IBU World Championships in Hochfilzen, Austria.
Dunklee’s ski speed Friday kept her in top-10 contention early on — she was the 34th starter. She had the fourth fastest split after her first 2.5 k loop and shooting bout. After her second lap and five shots on the range, she was leading the interval start event. Dunklee was able to knock down targets, harness her patience, and not bleed too much time shooting. She spent 54.2 seconds and 49.8 seconds for her “range time”, respectively, during her two bouts. Those times were 9.1 seconds slower than the fastest shooter in prone and 8.0 seconds slower than the top range time in standing.
However, patience kept her in it. On a day when winds played games with shooting accuracy, taking slightly more time on the range, getting settled prior to pulling the trigger paid dividends for Dunklee. Of the top-nine athletes overall, Dunklee was the only competitor to shoot clean.
“Before the start, I was standing in the start pen watching a lot of the top athletes and noticed a lot of misses. So I knew there was potential for a good result if I could hold it together on the shooting range. So that was my focus, just follow my shooting plan,” Dunkee said in a post-race press conference.
Roeiseland captured gold from Dunklee’s grasp on the final ski loop as she outpaced the American by 19.7 seconds on the lap to move ahead into first.
“Have you ever pushed so hard on the last loop? You looked like you might collapse in the last meters,” Dunklee was asked by a reporter during the press conference.
”Yeah I thought I might too,” replied Dunklee. “I was struggling to keep my balance. I was getting splits that whole last loop and I knew I had a bit of a cushion of time going into it. I think I really lost a lot over the field in that last kilometer, but I gave it everything I had and that’s all I can do. It was a good battle.”
Silver for Dunklee.