Liz Stephen

SkiTrax - - Contents - by Sue We­myss

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.