VAL DI FIEMME, Italy (Feb. 26) – Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT) powered into the top five in the 10k individual skate at the FIS World Nordic Ski Championships. This marks her best ever individual result, earning the top finish for the U.S. Ski Team and providing an historic best for the women's team in the event. Adding even more momentum to this year’s World Champs, Stephen’s teammates all finished within the top 30. Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN), Holly Brooks and Kikkan Randall (both Anchorage, AK) finished 23rd, 27th and 30th respectively. Norway’s Therese Johaug took the top spot.
Liz Stephen powering into the top five in the 10k individual skate at the FIS World Nordic Ski Championships. (U.S. Ski Team - Sarah Brunson)
I would have been really psyched with a top ten and to actually have met the top five goal - which was definitely the far-reached one - I’m pretty ecstatic. I couldn’t have done it without the team behind me. The first person that gave me a hug was Holly [Brooks] in the finish zone. The entire team was there afterwards. I’m so lucky to be a part of something so big right now.
I’d never skied [the course] as a skate course before. We always do it as a classic on the Tour de Ski, so I was psyched to be able to skate up those hills and just kept channeling the Tour de Ski energy and vibes. Heck, it’s World Championships, there’s pretty good vibes here with Kikkan and Jessie getting the win the other day. The mood of the team is outstanding right now - lots of energy kicking around.
I felt the body kind of coming this week and new feelings that I haven’t really felt all season. I woke up today thinking it was going to be a good day and I’m glad it was.
Today was a tough one for me personally. I felt like I was missing the power and capacity I had in my distance skating earlier this season. I was probably a little fatigued from the team sprint two days ago and since I haven't done very much distance skate racing since the Tour, my aerobic system may have been a little asleep.
It was still however a spectacular day as my teammate Liz Stephen was 5th in the world, just 8 seconds off the podium! I've been training alongside Liz for a few years now and have witnessed how hard she works. She has been reaching new levels this season, including skiing the 2nd fastest time up the Alpe Cermis on the Tour's final day, and she is so deserving of this amazing result. Her finish today is the best ever U.S. women's distance finish in a major championship! The whole team came out to the awards this evening to cheer her on.
The U.S. Team has some incredible momentum right now and it's so much fun to be a part of. We've got another team event coming up in 2 days and we're so excited. We have six strong women on the team right now. It's going to be a difficult decision to pick just four. But no matter what happens, we're all in this together!