June 18, 2018

Laura Dahlmeier wins gold medal in women's 7.5-kilometer sprint

10 February 2018, 07:36 | Joan Schultz

Laura Dahlmeier wins gold medal in women's 7.5-kilometer sprint

Lowell Bailey and Tim Burke

Biathlon kicks off Saturday with the women's 7.5 km sprint, which offers U.S. Biathlon its first opportunity to win its first Olympic medal at the 2018 PyeongChang Games.

As if the biathlon - a sport that mixes the endurance and speed of cross-country skiing with the focus and precision of shooting a rifle - isn't already hard enough, it just got tougher.

Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) narrowly missed the cut in 61st place with three penalties, while Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vermont) was 66th and Joanne Reid (Palo Alto, California) finished 86th.

Coming into these Games, the stars seemed to be aligned: finally, a breakthrough for the Americans at the Olympics in biathlon.

Laura Dahlmeier from Germany won the race flawlessly.

"It was not so easy because of that previous year", Dahlmeier said. The wind was so prevalent on the shooting range that only three women shot clean on their 10 targets. This is Vitkova's third Olympic Games and second medal.

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"I think we're going to take that confidence", Dunklee told reporters Wednesday, "knowing that we can be there on a good day, into the races, but we have a lot of work to do to be able to do that again so we're going to try to stay focused the best we can".

Egan hit seven of 10 targets, missing once in prone and twice in standing.

The top 60 finishers in Saturday night's sprint qualified for Monday's 10k pursuit. The prone was pretty good, one miss is decent. And then the sprint, pursuit and individual race, along with world cup rankings, determine who will be in the mass start. Emily Dreissigacker finished 51st with a time of 23 minutes and 27.2 seconds with one penalty on standing.

"It was very frustrating and very disappointing", Dunklee said.

But she said the last couple of loops took a toll on her and that her cold "makes a really big difference in an endurance sport like this trying to race through something like that". "And then in standing, I could feel the wind pushing my barrel around a little bit". She's the only American to qualify for the women's pursuit Monday. There should be more of that to come as the Olympics continue.

The competition begins at 6:15 a.m. EST and you can watch it live right here.

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