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truebluefan 04-03-2008 09:05 AM

Stephen, Zimmermann Pursuit Champions
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (March 28) - The U.S. Ski Team's Liz Stephen (East Montpelier, VT) and Leif Zimmermann (Bozeman, MT) skied their way to titles in the pursuit event during the U.S. Cross Country Distance Championships on Friday evening in Fairbanks. The events were held in the late evening twilight in Fairbanks.

The event also served as the finale of the USSA SuperTour. Russian Ivan Babikov took the win, with Zimmermann the top American in fourth to grab his third U.S. Championship gold of the season. Zimmermann was a double winner at the U.S. Cross Country Championships in Houghton, MI in January.

"It is her first year as a senior, and for someone that young to win is great," Cross Country Head Coach Peter Vordenberg said of Stephen. "It shows that her development is really coming along and that's exciting."

Stephen, a Westminster College student, has had a sensational season, also taking bronze in the 15K mass start during the Under-23 Championships in Italy.

U.S. Ski Team athletes rounded off the podium in the women's race with Morgan Arritola (Ketchum, ID) winning the silver and Taz Mannix (Talkeetna, AK) with bronze.

"Morgan and Taz are very young, as well, and for them to finish one, two and three is great," Vordenberg said.

Zimmermann led U.S. athletes in the men's pursuit behind Babikov, Norwegian Petter Eliassen in second and Marius Korthauer of Germany third.

Mike Sinnott (Sun Valley, ID) took home the silver medal, and Torrin Koos (Leavenworth, WA) got the bronze.

"Leif is also a fairly young guy, so it was good to have him as the first American. But, we want to win the races outright," Vordenberg said. "Beating those guys is what we're aiming to do."

The U.S. Distance Championships finish Sunday with a men's 50K and women's 30K classic.

USSA SuperTour
Fairbanks, AK - March 28, 2008
(Only U.S. athletes are eligible to win national titles)

Men's 30K
1. Ivan Babikov, Russia, 1:21:37.0
2. Petter Eliassen, Norway, 1:22:18.4
3. Marius Korthauer, Germany, 1:22:30.9
4. Leif Zimmermann, Bozeman, MT, 1:22:47.9
5. Andre Golovko, Kazakhstan, 1:22:49.6
6. Mike Sinnott, Sun Valley, ID, 1:23:10.3
7. Torin Koos, Leavenworth, WA, 1:23:43.0
8. Chris Cook, Rhinelander, WI, 1:24:38.6
9. James Southam, Anchorage, AK, 1:25:03.9
10. Noah Hoffman, Ketchum, ID, 1:25:14.7

Women's 15K
1. Liz Stephen, East Montpelier, VT, 45:38.7
2. Morgan Arritola, Ketchum, ID, 46:28.9
3. Taz Mannix, Talkeetna, AK, 46:58.7
4. Kasandra Rice, Anchorage, AK, 47:36.5
5. Nicole Deyong, Ketchum, ID, 47:44.9
6. Kristina Owen, Houghton, MI, 48:09.4
7. Lindsay Williams, Marquette, MI, 48:09.7
8. Laura Valaas, Wenatchee, WA, 49:02.4
9. Kristina Trygstad-Saari, Bozeman, MT, 49:17.1
10. Lindsey Weier Dehlin, Mahtomedi, MN, 49:51.7

truebluefan 04-03-2008 09:06 AM

Stephen Wins Second Title of Weekend
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (March 30) - Liz Stephen (East Montpelier, VT) added another national title to her resume this weekend winning the women's 30K U.S. Cross Country Distance Championships on Sunday in Fairbanks. Frode Lillefjell (Anchorage, AK) nabbed the title in the men's 50K, finishing in third but was the top American skier.

Morgan Arritola (Ketchum, ID), who also finished second in Friday's pursuit competition, earned silver again.

"Overall I am really pleased. For the ladies side it was great, I was really happy with that," said Cross Country Head Coach Peter Vordenberg. "They showed that the training that they do is really bringing them right along."

Stephen, a Westminster College student who's had an incredible season including a bronze in the 15K mass start during the Under-23 Championships in Italy, was happy to be able to finish off her season with two national titles.

"I feel like it's been a pretty good season and it's always nice to end things on a good note. I think it's a great way to end the season. I'm in a really good place right now for sure.," Stephen said. "These really were some of my favorite events so to be able to come out here and do this well is really special and it means a lot to me."

Voredenberg attributed much of Stephen's success this season to her training regimen.

"I think the training she's been doing with the team has really helped. She's a talented hard working athlete," Vordenberg said.

"I'm out there training every day in the summer with a coach and it's done huge things for me," Stephen said. "I think it makes me excel. All the coaches care so much for each athlete."

Lillefiel, an Alaska Pacific University coach who moved to the U.S. from Norway in 1995 to ski for Alaska University, did not expect to ski away with the national title.

"It's exciting. It was pretty surprising. I hadn't expected it, but the 50K classic has always been a good event for me," Lillefiel said. "I wanted to ski a hard race and enjoy it. The course up there was really tough, but I was looking forward to a hard battle.

"The organizers and the committee up here in Fairbanks did an amazing job. It's probably the best place in America to ski right now."

The U.S. Ski Team's Torin Koos (Leavenworth, WA) finished fourth, and Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) was fifth.

"On the men's side, I'm happy with the way Torin and Andy skied," Vordenberg said. "Those are our sprint skiers and they skied well for such a long distance."

Ivan Babikov of Russia won the men's race, and Andre Golovko of Kazakhstan was second.

"I think today was a good example of how the season has gone. We've had some real highlights and also some races that have shown that we have quite a ways to go," Vordenberg said. "So it was a really good day, but also a day that revealed some weaknesses that we need to work on."

The U.S. Cross Country Distance Championships bring the 2008 cross country season to a close.

Fairbanks, Alaska - March 30, 2008

Men's 50K
1. Ivan Babikov, Russia, 2:32:36.9
2. Andre Golovko, Kazakhstan, 2:33:29.9
3. Frode Lillefjell, Anchorage, AK, 2:35:00.9
4. Torin Koos, Leavenworth, WA, 2:35:06.6
5. Andy Newell, Shaftsbury, VT, 2:36:51.1
6. Colin Rodgers, Ketchum, ID, 2:37:53.6
7. Marius Korthauer, Germany, 2:39:04.7
8. Kris Freeman, Andover, NH, 2:40:11.4
9. Martin Rosvall, Sweden, 2:40:39.6
10. Zachary Violett, Brownsville, CA, 2:40:57.1

Women's 30K
1. Liz Stephen, East Montpelier, VT, 1:38:48.6
2. Morgan Arritola, Ketchum, ID, 1:40:20.0
3. Kristina Strandberg, Anchorage, AK, 1:41:19.2
4. Kasandra Rice, Anchorage, AK, 1:41:52.6
5. Kristina Owen, Houghton, MI, 1:41:56.8
6. Sigrid Aas, Norway, 1:42:09.9
7. Laura Valaas, Wenatchee, WA, 1:42:49.0
8. Nicole Deyong, Ketchum, ID, 1:43:14.4
9. Lindsay Williams, Marquette, MI, 1:44:32.8
10. Lindsey Weier Dehlin, Mahtomedi, MN, 1:46:05.5

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