Women head out at the start of the skiathlon skiing 7.5k classic before switching skis to freestyle. (Getty Images/AFP-Jonathan Nackstrand)
FALUN, Sweden (March 15) - Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT) skied a strong freestyle leg to lead the USA at 15th in the Falun mini-tour skiathlon. Stephen moved up from 37th after the 7.5k classic with a strong 7.5k freestyle leg. Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) was 20th, Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) 21st. Noah Hoffman (Aspen, CO) was 18th. Norway's Therese Johaug took a 33 second win over teammate Marit Bjoergen while Canada's Alex Harvey won for the men. The World Cup season wraps up Sunday in Falun, site of the 2015 World Championships, with a men's 15k and women's 10k freestyle pursuit.
Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT) skied a strong freestyle leg to lead the USA in 15th at the Falun mini-tour skiathlon.
Stephen moved up from 37th in the classic leg.
Noah Hoffman (Aspen, CO) had a strong day from start to finish, ending up 18th.
Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) was 20th with Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) 21st as Norway's Therese Johaug took the win.
One of the highlights of the day was the classic performand of Bjornsen, who was ninth at the exchange.
Rain overnight and new snow made conditions challenging.
The World Cup season wraps up Sunday with a men's 15k and women's 10k at the site of the 2015 World Championships.
QUOTES Liz Stephen It is nice to be in Falun with the sun and, though there is no snow anywhere but the race course, it's great skiing! We are all looking forward to ending our hotel room stays for the year. I certainly am ready to be in a home again, but I am not totally exhausted physically like I have been other years here, so that feels good.
It was so fun to celebrate Kikkan's globe with her I am so proud and happy for her. She has earned every step she has taken forward in this sport and it is so fun to watch her achieve such success. She has been such a strong force in US skiing and bringing our team to where we are today, so I couldn't be more happy for what she has achieved and to be her teammate and friend.
Chris Grover, Cross Country Head Coach Solid day out there for Liz, Kikkan, Sadie, and Noah in particular. We had changing conditions over night with rain and new snow and colder temperatures that we have seen since January this morning. The service team did an excellent job of making great skis and that kept our athletes in the hunt. Sadie had a stand-out classic race and Liz had one of the fastest skate legs of the day. Noah was strong all day and very patient in the execution of his race strategy. He climbed up the rankings from start to finish. The final day of the Tour and World Cup Finals has always been an excellent day for the USA so look for many of our men and women to move up in the ranks.