February 13, 2013 (Nove Mesto, CZE) – Claiming her second gold medal of the 2013 World Championships, Norway’s Tora Berger shot clean to win the women’s Individual Start with a time of 44:52.5. Silver went to Germany’s Andrea Henkel, who like Berger, had a perfect day of shooting in a time 45:45.2 while Ukraine’s Valj Semerenko missed one shot in her opening round, but hung onto third place with a time of 46:35.0.
Celebrating her 27th birthday, American Susan Dunklee was the top North American finisher, with a 15th place, posting a time of 48:22.8 suffering two penalties. With this result, Dunklee met the early qualification requirement for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games.
“I wasn’t quite sure how today would pan out but in the back of my mind I was thinking about the Individual race at World Championships last year – the race of my life – how today was my birthday and I really wanted to have a magical day,” Dunklee told SkiTrax. “Usually the more you try to make that happen in biathlon, the less likely things will work out well. But today was great! I was psyched to make the top 15!”
A layer of fresh snow made for a slower course but the American ski techs had the wax dialed as Dunklee’s skis were blazing fast. According to Dunklee, she was calm and collected in the range. “The shooting felt relaxed and automatic. I could hear the loudspeakers talking about my teammate Sara, so I knew she was having a good day. Everything was feeling good.” Dunklee was in contention for a top-ten finish but suffered a crash on the last loop.
“In my effort to gain every second I took the big downhill too aggressively and fell. I broke my rifle stock (a big bummer for a biathlete) but it is still one of the best days of the winter so far.”
Crawford explained her strategy on the range. “I had cleaned my first prone and missed in my first standing, so for my next two bouts it was to pay attention to the wind and just stick to my rhythm. I shot in lane 30 for both of my standing bouts that I think was very helpful. The wall there made a big difference in terms of wind.
“After leaving the range for my last loop I am pretty sure I had a great big grin on my face! I think this is the best I have ever shot in a 20-shot race on the World Cup. A lot of athletes usually slow down their shooting for an individual because those shots are so much more important. But I feel it’s best for me to stick to my rhythm, this paid off with the 3rd fastest range time today!”
The up-and-coming Canadian star was very satisfied with her result. “This is the best Individual I have ever had, whether as a junior or as a senior,” added Crawford, “So I am pretty happy. My skiing seems to be slowly coming back to where I was before Christmas, so now we know for next year that the timing was a little off in terms of peaking. I am really looking forward to the relay, as always, with some good shooting our team has a lot of potential!”
Other North American results include American Annelies Cook in 38th and Canadians Megan Heinicke was 50th and Zina Kocher placed 52nd, while American Hannah Dreissigacker finished 56th. Rounding out the North American results was Canadians Audrey Vaillancourt in 76th place.
The World Championships continue on Thursday in the Czech Republic with the Men’s Individual competition.
Full results here.