Liz Stephen Third in Blink Festival Women’s Lysebotn Hillclimb

Better late than never, here’s video footage from NRK’s broadcast of the women’s race up the Lysebotn.  The real race was for second place:  Therese Johaug dominated.  Johaug was never challenged for the win: after sitting in the lead group, she dropped the field and seemed to keep pulling away.  Liz Stephen finished in third place with a stellar performance of her own, finishing third.  Stephen looked like a sure bet for second place until Heidi Weng went by in the last few meters.  Kikkan Randall also had a great day, finishing sixth overall.

Unlike the men’s race, the women’s pack seemed to string out early.  Heidi Weng led a group of around six on the flats and in the early part of the climb.  But Johaug came out of the tunnel below the first switchbacks with a clear lead that she never relinquished.  From somewhere in the pack, Liz Stephen gradually worked her way towards the front of the field, picking off other skiers with a combination of V2 and V1 technique.  Stephen caught and passed Weng perhaps a kilometer from the finish, but was unable to break away.  In the last 50 meters, Weng made her move and Stephen was unable to counter, finishing two seconds back.

NRK set a standard by which any ski race, whether snow or roller, should be televised.  With multiple automobiles, ATVs and even a helicopter, they did a great job of bringing these race to the public.