Dunklee just misses podium

Susan Dunklee turned in a personal best fourth-place finish and Annelies Cook of Saranac Lake placed 70th at Thursday’s 7.5-kilometer World Cup biathlon race in Antholz-Anterselva, Italy.

Dunklee, of Barton, Vt., completed the course with perfect shooting and a time of 20 minutes, 40.9 seconds. Anais Bescond of France won the race in 20:30.2 with one missed target to capture her first-ever World Cup victory.

Andrea Henkel of Germany was second in 20:36.7 and no misses and Darya Domracheva of Belarus was third in 20:40.3.

“I went into the race feeling very relaxed and confident that the pieces have been coming together during practice. Today, they came together on the same day,” Dunklee said Thursday in a press release. “After the standing shooting, I realized I was fighting for a spot on the podium. The coaches and staff were out there yelling and excited, and I just tried to push as hard as I could.

“Being half a second off the podium is extremely motivating, and I know I can be there. That’s a huge confidence booster. I’m really happy to have such a great team of coaches and staff who put everything together for us in such a professional way that make these sort of opportunities possible.”

Sara Studebaker of Idaho was the second-best American with a time of 22:32.5 and two misses. Cook was next with her time of 22:50.5 and three misses.

“This venue is not an easy one,” said US Biathlon High Performance Director Bernd Eisenbichler. “Susan approached it very aggressively and wanted to go for a great result from the beginning of the race. Her performance was big for the whole women’s team because it gives them a boost of confidence coupled with their strong relay performances this season.”

Dunklee and Studebaker will compete in the 10k pusuit on Saturday. The U.S. men’s team will take the course today for the 10k sprint.