FALUN, Sweden (Feb. 21, 2015) – Liz Stephen (East Montpelier, VT) used the power of a strong skate leg to ski into eleventh place leading the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 15k skiathlon event. Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) finished 20th. Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) led the men in the 30k skiathlon event in 28th place.
Liz Stephen leads a small breakaway group during the women's 15k skiathlon at the Falun 2015 World Championships. (Getty Images-Matthias Hangst)
“I’ve had low energy and tired muscles and just fatigue coming out of the training week,” Stephen said of the two-discipline event. Stephen stayed within 1:14 after the classic event, a strong effort in slow, transformed snow. Stephen led a chase group of five skiers through the course lined with enormous crowds before coming into the finish, 1:45 behind eventual winner, Therese Johaug of Norway.
“The biggest climb was filled with fans and I channeled some rhythm to go up the hill. I’m thankful for that hill and the crowd today,” Stephen said of the event and the scene. “It was hard, I was struggling with classic a bit today. I don’t know why. I switched into skating and struggled at the beginning. The biggest climb was filled with fans and I channeled some rhythm to go up the hill. I’m thankful for that hill and the crowd today,” echoed Sadie Bjornsen of the experience. On the men’s side, Maxim Vylegzanin of Russia won over a hard charging Dario Colgona of Switzerland.
It was hard, I was struggling with classic a bit today. I don’t know why. I switched into skating and struggled at the beginning. The biggest climb was filled with fans and I channeled some rhythm to go up the hill. I’m thankful for that hill and the crowd today.
I’ve had low energy and tired muscles and just fatigue coming out of the training week. I didn’t have any expectations and I’m really happy with how I finished and how my energy was.
It was the chillest mass start I’ve ever done- whoever usually pushes the pace kept it chill. I’m not a super fast starter so it worked out well for me. I had amazingly fast skis on both legs.”
We started to see the leaders and it was motivating and I didn’t know what place I was in, but I could see Marit (Bjorgen) and if you see her you know you’re having a good race.”
I tried to in with a positive mindset. I’m not getting into a good race feel. It’s been challenging mentally. Yeah, I was just trying to get a feel for where I’m at and I’m hoping more racing will put me in the right direction. We’re trying to figure it all out.
I think it was a good call to race and while I had a different place coming.
My goal was to fight for every kilometer of the race. I just wanted to hang onto guys and fight for it. I was very surprised at how long I saw the leaders. That’s a boost of energy when you can see the leaders. I went into the skate feeling good and at five k I started to cramp. This is my second championships and this has got to be one of the biggest races I’ve skied in.
It was really something for me right from the start. It’s not something I was looking for. I can build from here, however.
The injury is feeling great. The medical team that helped me get back was so helpful. It’s a non-issue at this point.