Over a 12-year career, Liz Stephen achieved more than just fantastic results; she also helped push the U.S. women’s cross-country-ski program to a new level.
Stephen began her racing career on the alpine circuit, competing for the Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont. At the age of 15, she switched to the Nordic discipline and immediately became competitive under the wing of Burke’s head coach, Matt Whitcomb.
Year 2008 saw her first international podium, placing third in the 15km Freestyle event at the U23 World Championships in Malles, Italy. The next year, Stephen participated in her first of five Elite World Championships and qua qualified for the U.S. Olympic team for f the hv Vancouver Games. Stephen would also race at the 2014 and 2018 Olympics, with her top performance coming in Sochi with a 12th place in the Skiathlon.
Stephen excelled in the long-distance events, and claimed two World Cup podiums, finishing second at Rybinsk, Russia in 2015 and second at the Pyeongchang Test Event in 2017.
She captured six National Championships titles, with her last coming in 2011 in the 20km Freestyle. Also a talented natural climber, she often challenged for the win up the brutally steep Alpe Cermis, the final stage of the Tour de Ski. In 2015, she finished fifth overall, but nailed her best result in 2016, coming in second on the final stage up Cermis.
She also won the seventh annual NYSEF Climb to the Castle Rollerski race in Wilmington, N.Y. in 2013 and the North Face Race to the Top of Vermont in Stowe that same year.
The women’s 4x5km relay has had huge success over the past decade, and Stephen was an integral member, most often racing the third leg. She and her teammates hit the podium for the first time in Gaellivare, Sweden in 2012, earning third place. In each of the 2013, 2015 and 2017 World Championship relays, the team recorded stellar fourth-place finishes.
In addition to her racing prowess, Stephen added great spirit and a fun, caring personality to the US National team. Back home in Utah, she will return to school to become a nurse, but she will never lose her drive and passion.
Her advice to young skiers reflects her philosophy: “Love the pursuit of the goal, not the goal itself. Be a good teammate above all else. Find the joy of sport and life in every moment you can. And try, try, try, try, try as hard as you can as many days and in as many things as you can. That’s how you find out just how good you can be.”
Stephen won six National titles and claimed two World Cup silver podiums.
Liz Stephen celebrated a fabulous 12-year career at the season finale.
Liz Stephen had a remarkable career.