My teammate Liz Stephen finished an impressive fifth place in the 10 kilometer individual start skate race here at the World Championships yesterday. The result represents a career best for Liz and the best ever finish for a U.S. women at a major championship in a distance race. Everyone on our team was just as excited for Liz as they were for Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins after their win in the team sprint on Sunday. Here’s Liz after her race:
Liz finished 8.5 seconds off the podium and only 41.2 seconds behind World Champion Therese Johaug of Norway. When I arrived at the venue more than half an hour after the race finished, Therese was still working her way through the mix zone:
Here are Kikkan (left), Jessie and Liz (right) along with Zach Caldwell after the race:
At major championships, the top-6 competitors get called up at the awards. So, we all piled in the vans and headed back to the awards ceremony to support Liz. There was a huge crowd last night.
I got to hang out with my parents a little bit at the awards. Here I am with my mom:
And both of my parents:
Here I am with my wax tech Randy Gibbs (left) and my teammate Kris Freeman:
No other team came out to support their teammates so the “team” zone was a sea of yellow:
Here are the athletes on the awards before they get called up:
Therese won and her teammate Marit Bjoergen (the best female skier in the world over the last decade) was second. Russia’s Yulia Tchekaleva was third. In forth place was Miriam Goessner, a biathlete from Germany. Goessner came to the championships just for the 10km skate (because biathletes don’t classic ski). She competed in the biathlon World Championships two weeks ago. Norway’s Heidi Weng was sixth.
Here are Goessner, Liz and Weng:
Norway took three of the top six spots and most of the crowd was there to support them:
Here the athletes are during the playing of the national anthem of Norway:
Here’s Liz chatting with Heidi Weng on their way down from the podium:
Here she is after getting off the podium:
Here she is with her mom Susan Stephen:
Liz has been on the U.S. Ski Team for a long time, she has worked incredibly hard, she has supported her teammates through every up and down, and she has been the backbone of the great group dynamics we currently have on the team. I am so happy to see her have some well deserved success of her own. Oh, and I’ve NEVER seen her with this much makeup on:
Head women’s coach Matt Whitcomb has been Liz’s personal coach since she started cross country skiing as a freshman in high school. He has weathered all of the ups and downs with Liz and he takes her successes and failures more personally than any other coach I’ve ever observed. Liz’s success yesterday is as much Matt’s as it is Liz’s. Here’s Matt with Liz’s parents Mark and Susan:
Our way out of the awards kept getting delayed because everybody wanted their picture taken with Kikkan:
From the town of Cavalese, where the awards are held, there is a great view of the alpine run of Alpe Cermis. The run is the course for the final climb of the Tour de Ski which I raced in January.
When we got back to the hotel we had a toast for Liz.
At the team meeting, Simi continued the tradition of starting things off on a funny note, but he took it to the next level. He made a video of himself impersonating all of the girls on our team. It was hilarious!
Everybody was cracking up. He did an incredible job.