SZKLARSKA POREBA, Poland (Jan. 19) – Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT) skied to her career best FIS World Cup finish in sixth in the women’s 10k classic mass start Sunday in Szklarska Poreba, Poland. Ida Sargent (Orleans, VT) also posted a career best finish in ninth, while Justyna Kowalczyk took the victory in her Polish hometown. The World Cup goes to Toblach, Italy for a 15k/10k race and sprints Feb. 1-2, the final events before the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.
Liz Stephen, seen here at 2013 World Championships, skied to her career best FIS World Cup finish in sixth in the women’s 10k classic mass start Sunday in Szklarska Poreba, Poland. (Sarah Brunson/U.S. Ski Team)
I am really happy with my race today, and actually really happy with the weekend as a whole. To be in my second sprint heats ever on the World Cup yesterday and to have a PR today as my first ever World Cup top six and in a classic race, I am really psyched.
I was in third going up the last climb, but Julia Ivanova passed me near the top and was too strong to stay with. She skied away from me and as the downhill was ending coming into the stadium Claudia and Denise passed me and I just couldn't hang through the stadium flats, but was able to hold off Stefi, which I was really happy about. Huge shout out to our coaches and techs for making this weekend not only really successful but also really fun.
Today was a hard race with slow snow and big hills. We had great skis though and I felt really good so I'm excited with my first distance top-10 finish. I could see Liz flying up the hills in front of me so it was great motivation for me to keep going and keep her in my sights. It was a great weekend for the team so our stoke level is high heading into a pre-Olympic training camp in Italy. I have felt better and better with each race so I'm excited for what is to come!
Matt Whitcomb, Head Women’s Cross Country Coach
I'm especially encouraged to see Liz Stephen (sixth) and Ida Sargent (ninth) perform so well on one of the harder courses of the year. A good race today means they can enter the upcoming pre-Olympic training camp in Italy with some extra confidence. For both Ida and Liz today was their best career classic result, but more importantly it was their best classic performance of the season. That's what I am focused on. It's a good time to start to fly, and with each of the five U.S. Ski Team women that competed finishing in the top-10 this weekend, we're beginning to do that.