KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (Feb. 2) - The U.S. Ski Team's Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT) skied to a career best eighth in the 7.5k/7.5k skiathlon on the Olympic course. It was the second day of Olympic test events on the Laura Cross Country Ski Center near Sochi with teammate Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) winning the sprint on Friday. Kristin Stoermer Steira of Norway won women's while Dario Cologna of Switzerland took the men's. Action continues in Sochi Sunday with a team sprint.
Skiers race through a scenic landscape of snow at the Laura Cross Country Ski Center near Sochi. (Getty Images/AFP)
- Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT) scored a career best finishing eighth in the 7.5k/7.5k skiathlon at the Laura Cross Country Ski Center near Sochi.
- Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) was 24th, Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN). Noah Hoffman (Aspen, CO) was 26th in the men's 15k/15k.
- Stephen went out strong in the 7.5k classic segment, running with the lead pack the entire way and making the change to skate less than 10 seconds out of the lead. She maintained her placing in the skate finishing 47 seconds off the lead.
- Skiers faced raging snow at some times during the race at the Laura venue just northeast and up the mountain from Krasnaya Polyana.
- The FIS World Cup test events wrapup Sunday with a team sprint. Simi Hamilton and Andy Newell will pair up for the men, with Ida Sargent and Sadie Bjornsen for the women.
The race today was challenging for me. The classic portion went really well, as I probably had my best ever start in a mass start, getting myself to the front of the group right away and staying in the top 10 for the whole classic portion of the race. Once the skate started, though, my legs were not up for the hills and I was not able to ski the way I was hoping to. That said, I skied my heart out, trying to stay with the lead chase pack, and I am certainly happy with my finish.
The best part of today was proving to myself that on a day when I feel really good, I can have a podium finish in a World Cup. Getting myself to truly believe that has been an ongoing process and a tough mental barrier for me to break into. After racing for quite a few years now on the World Cup circuit and slowly making gains each year, to finally see the podium as the next step, man, it's hard to get your head around it in order to fully believe that I can be on one of those steps in the near future. But it is also the most important part of getting onto the step. Believing fully that you actually can do it. Days like today help in that process.