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Meet Liz Stephen

Liz Stephen.
Photo: U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team
Liz Stephen. Photo: U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team

Liz Stephen. Photo: U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team

The 30-year-old American has more than a decade’s tenure on the US Ski Team.

Elizabeth Stephen is one of the new faces in the 2017 Madshus line-up. The slight and springy racer from Vermont is known throughout the racing community as one of the best climbers in the world. She has been a part of the US Ski Team since 2007, and was a part of the 2010 and 2014 U.S. Olympic team, as well as the U.S. World Championship teams in 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015.

Why do you ski?
It’s fun. I love my team and I love the community of people that make up the ski world. From the time I joined my first ski team until now, the people are what keep me involved in the sport. I am a people person and the friendships I have formed during the years in the cross-country community are some of the closest ones I have. Oh, and I am addicted to the endorphins I get from exercising, and as a skier, I get to feel them a lot!

What keeps you motivated to race at this level year after year?
Again, it’s fun. Sport is just a game. Yes, of course, it is a game I take very seriously and professionally, but in the end, it is just a game. Nobody dies when you have a bad race, but it is in the trying to achieve a personal best that the game becomes really worth pursuing for me. Our US team is made up of a group of incredible humans, and they keep me motivated to be the best I can be, even on the days/weeks/months/years when you are in a slump. My team keeps me searching and pushing for more, as we are all in this thing together.

What is your best racing memory? – And your worst?
Best: Being on the 4x5k relay team when we stood on our first ever WC podium in that event, and every time since then.

Worst: Racing the Holmenkollen in 2010 and being absolutely exhausted on the start line. Not a fun course to be tired for!

What is your ultimate goal?
Result wise, it would have to be to help our team win a medal at the 2018 Games in the 4x5k relay. My life goal is to live as many days as I possibly can where I make a positive difference in someone else’s life.

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Liz Stephen (USA) at the World Cup/Pre-OLympics in, Pyeong Chang (KOR). Photo: NordicFocus

Liz Stephen (USA) at the World Cup/Pre-OLympics in Pyeongchang (KOR) in February. Photo: NordicFocus

How much do you typically train on an average week in November, just before the World Cup season opens?
About 18-20 hours

– And how are these hours divided among the usual elements (endurance/distance, intensity, speed, plyometrics/strength etc)?

1 structured speed session
2 strength sessions
2 intensity sessions

All of the rest are easy distance, with many of these sessions including some accelerations.

What is your favorite on-snow workout, and will you share that with the Madshus community?
I like pyramid intervals (1,2,3,4,3,2,1 or something similar) as I usually only do them when I am on snow and working on getting in shape. I assimilate peak fitness with these workouts so that makes them fun.

What is your best advice to young racers who aspire to go all the way to the World Cup?
Work your face off, and have fun doing it.

What is your favorite thing to do when you don’t ski or train?
Spending time outdoors with friends or family.

What is a fun fact about Liz – something most people don’t know about you?
Pigs are my favorite animals. They make me so happy when I see their little noses and curly tails and hear their snorts. I hope to own a farm someday.

 

Vasaloppet Means Everything

John Kristian Dahl wins Vasaloppet with a 1-second margin in a 29-man bunch sprint. Photo: Ulf Palm/Vasaloppet
John Kristian Dahl wins Vasaloppet with a 1-second margin in a 29-man bunch sprint. Photo: Ulf Palm/Vasaloppet

John Kristian Dahl wins Vasaloppet with a 1-second margin in a 29-man bunch sprint. Photo: Ulf Palm/Vasaloppet

“This victory saves my entire season,” John Kristian Dahl said after winning Vasaloppet by 1 second to fellow Madshus racer Stian Hoelgaard in a bunch sprint.

“I had fantastic skis. I skied on a brand new pair and that was really fun. Also, there are always some luck involved, I’ve trained well this last month and I made good choices at the end of the race,” Dahl said to Madshus.com after the race.

Dahl, who also won Vasaloppet in 2014, surged on the last stretch to the finish line in one of the biggest mass sprints in the history of the race, where a total of 29 racers were fighting for the victory.

A breakaway that took off about 38km into the race had a lead of more than 2 minutes in Oxberg, where Dahl had nearly given up the hope of a victory. But then Dahl and the rest of the main field caught the two racers in the breakaway with several kilometers to go, and the whole bunch stayed together all the way to the finish.

“I thought that I would just go after it, and see if I could last. So I started picking up the pace, but it was so hard to get anyone else to join me, so spent a lot of energy there,” Dahl said after his finish, adding that he had a strategy once he saw the opportunity.

“I defended my own position. I stayed in my own track for the last four kilometers. I just skied faster and faster as we approached the finish line, and the last 200 meters I just sold out. I didn’t know that I made it until I had crossed the line. It was an intense experience,” Dahl said.

This second victory at the Vasaloppet means the world to Dahl, especially given a rough season so far.

“It’s really wonderful to be able to defend my victory from 2014. Our team has had a lot of trouble this year, and this win really makes the season for the entire team,” Dahl said.

“I skied a perfect race today. John Kristian was just that much faster at the end, and fully deserves the victory,” Hoelgaard said to Madshus.com.

RESULTS Vasaloppet 2016, men
1. John Kristian Dahl, (NOR) Norge, 4.08.00
2. Stian Hoelgaard, (NOR) Norge, 4.08.01
3. Anders Mölmen Höst, (NOR) Norge, 4.08.02
4. Öyvind Moen Fjeld, (NOR) Norge, 4.08.02
5. Dario Cologna, (SUI) Schweiz, 4.08.02
6. Markus Ottosson, (SWE) IFK Umeå, 4.08.02
7. Jerry Ahrlin, (SWE) Team Swedemount Sport, 4.08.03
8. Stanislav Rezác, (CZE) Tjeckien, 4.08.03
9. Johan Kjölstad, (NOR) Norge, 4.08.03
10. Oskar Kardin, (SWE) Östersunds SK, 4.08.03

This is Vasaloppet 2016

Each year, 15,800 racers embark on the 90 kilometer journey from Sälen to Mora. Photo: Vasaloppet
When the gun goes off at 8am on Sunday, 15,800 racers embark on the 90 kilometer journey from Sälen to Mora. Photo: Vasaloppet

When the gun goes off at 8am on Sunday, 15,800 racers embark on the 90 kilometer journey from Sälen to Mora. Photo: Vasaloppet

Sunday’s 90km classic event from Sälen to Mora is the 92nd edition of the legendary ski race, named after Swedish king Gustav Vasa who ventured into the area 495 years ago.

On Sunday, 15,800 skiers will participate in the 92nd Vasaloppet, and the 20th edition with a ladies’ competition class. This year, the elite ladies will have two to three tracks to themselves on the final stretch so that no men can get in the way of their final sprint for the finish line.

The first Vasaloppet was on Sunday March 19, 1922. Only three races have been cancelled: in 1932, 1934 and 1990. Since 1948, the race has always been run on the first Sunday of March, except for 2015 when it was moved due to the World Ski Championships in Falun.

Madshus marathon racer Jörgen Brink holds the current course record for the men, 3 hours, 38 minutes and 41 seconds, posted in 2012. Brink is the only athlete to post a true hat trick in the Vasaloppet since wooden skis went out of style in the 1970s. Brink won Vasaloppet in 2010, 2011 and 2012. In 2013 Brink was on track for four straight victories, but racing the 90-kilometer course with a fever, Brink was narrowly beat on the final stretch and ended up fourth.

Fellow Madshus marathon team racer Stanislav Rezác (CZE) is participating in Vasaloppet for the 18th time. He’s been in the top ten twelve times, the top three six times, but no win. He has been among the top 6 these past six years, and came 3rd in 2015.

John Kristian Dahl won Vasaloppet 2014 - in his first season on the marathon circuit. Photo: Madshus

John Kristian Dahl won Vasaloppet 2014 – in his first season on the marathon circuit. Photo: Madshus

Vasaloppet trivia
This year, it is 50 years since Vasaloppet was first broadcasted. Starting in 1966, the race has been televised live on Swedish television (starting in 1966). However, 2016 marks the 39th time that Vasaloppet (in parts or in its entirety) is live transmitted, and the 34th time that the Vasaloppet start is broadcasted live on television. 1973 was the first year with a live broadcast in color!

Last year an average 1,826,000 viewers watched SVT’s five-hour-long Vasaloppet broadcast. In total 3,445,000 viewers tuned in to see some part of the live broadcast – more than a third of Sweden’s population. 751,000 viewers got up as early as 07:30 to watch the initial half hour before the start.

Vasaloppet 2015 was fully booked in 83 seconds when registration opened in March, 2015. This means 15.800 registered participants. The record number is 16,462 from 2010, but the event is now limited to 15,800. 2016 is the third year in a row when over 66,500 participants have registered for the various races in Vasaloppet’s Winter Week.

For the third year in a row, over 2000 ladies have registered for Vasaloppet, which means almost 14 percent female participants out on the course this Sunday. (In the whole of Vasaloppet’s Winter Week 2016, with all nine races included, 61 percent are gents and 39 percent are ladies.)

Vasaloppet 2016 has participants from 46 different nations, counting Sweden. About 3,800 of the registered participants come from other nations than Sweden, most from Norway (1,272). Then come Denmark (630), Finland (562), Germany (253), Czech Republic (207), Estonia (182), Switzerland (156), Austria (117), Italy (113), the Netherlands (69), Russia (66) and France (48). In total the Vasaloppet Winter Week 2016 has over 6,000 international participants from a record 55 nations.

Since 1922 a total of 534,639 Vasaloppet skiers have completed the 90-kilometre Vasaloppet; put together they have covered a distance equivalent to 1,202 round the world trips or 62 journeys to the moon and back.

Öppet spår. Foto: Mikael Forslund, 1/3-2015 © Mikael Forslund Produktion AB Manhemsvägen 34 791 31 Falun Mobil: 070-663 26 14 E-post: mf.produktion@telia.com Fax samt tel: 023-79 55 99 Hemsida: http://www.mikaelforslundproduktion.com Org nr: 556675-0047 VAT: SE 556675004701 Bankgiro: 5748-7191 IBAN: SE76 8000 0816 6197 4078 9731 BIC/Swift code: SWEDSESS Bank: Swedbank

Vasaloppet is most of all for the masses, those who take the time to savour the soup and the scenery. Photo: Mikael Forslund

Taugboel Targets Lillehammer World Cup

Madshus racer Haavard Solaas Taugboel (NOR) steps it up as he enters the senior level and sets his goals high: the U23 World Championships and the Lillehammer World Cup races in December. The Lillehammer World Cup races are on home turf for the 20-year-old, and would be a dream come true for the ambitious young racer, who skis for Team Coop Talent/Lillehammer Skiklub.

QUICK FACTS: HAAVARD SOLAAS TAUGBOEL
Age:
20
Hometown: Lillehammer
Merits: 2 medals from FIS Junior World Championships, 3 gold medals from Norwegian Junior National Championships

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Madshus racer Haavard Solaas Taugboel (NOR) aims for the top from the get-go. The Lillehammer World Cup in December and the FIS U23 World Championships top his list for the season. Photo: Team Coop Talent

 

What are your goals for the coming season – main goals and others?
Haavard: U23 World Championships in Val di Fiemme and be able to race World Cup events. In order to get there, I have to deliver at the Norwegian national championships, Scandinavian Cup (COC) and the Norwegian Cup.

 

Is there anything you have worked extra on leading up to this season, and if so, what?
Haavard: I have focused on more quality in every workout, and somewhat less volume overall.

 

What are your thoughts about the World Cup races on your home turf in Lillehammer, December 7-8?
Haavard: It will be a huge event with an incredible atmosphere. I don’t expect to be named to the national team for those races, but if I were, it would be a huge bonus for me. These races are on the trails I grew up on, so it would be a dream come true if I were picked for the team. And if not, I will certainly be there, cheering on any of my Team Coop Talent teammates who get to race.

 

What distances and courses do you like, and what is your favorite venue?
Haavard: I like all kinds of distances and courses. If I am fit and ready, the distance and the course don’t matter.

 

Have you done any ski marathons, and if so, how did that go?
Haavard: I raced the Birkebeiner, and it was both an incredible experience as well as the hardest thing I have done.

 

What are your thoughts about marathon racing: Is that a career track for you?
Haavard: So far, I have no plans to switch to marathons. I focus on the traditional distances and World Cup circuit, but I do some marathons whenever they are convenient and fit into the overall race schedule.

 

What is your best ski racing memory?
Haavard: Junior Nationals in Stryn, the 10km classic race. I never felt tired, and could just gun it forever, as if there was no end.

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