FAIRBANKS, AK (March 29) - Liz Stephen (East Montpelier, VT) and James Southam (Anchorage) each notched off one final U.S title as Stephen won the women's 30K and Southam finished third in the men's 50K classic race at the close of the 2009 U.S. Cross Country Distance Championships on Sunday. It was Stephen's third and Southam's second title of the 2009 Championships.
"It's great to end the season confident going into next year. It's fun to be able to be tired, but to still be able to hold on and pull off some great races at the end of the season," Stephen said. "It definitely makes me excited to get ready this summer for next season."
Morgan Arritola (Ketchum, ID) followed Stephen in second place and Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) was third.
According to Stephen, earning her win on Sunday was not an easy task.
"The battle was really good. Morgan led for most of the race. There were about five of us. She was really pushing the pace and I was struggling to keep up," Stephen said. "There was a lap and a half to go and I started reeling people in and on the last huge hill I got some space from Morgan and was able to keep it."
For Stephen, winning her third title of the season was sweeter than it normally would have been because she got to do it in Fairbanks.
"It means a lot to me. I've raced pretty well in Fairbanks before. The hills here are really hard but I know them really well. It means a lot to win the championships for sure, but to win them in Fairbanks is pretty fun for me," Stephen said. "The volunteers and the fans are all out in full force every day and they do a great job."
In the men's race Canadians Stefan Kuhn and Ivan Babikov finished first and second, respectively. Southam, who was third, took the title as the top U.S. finisher.
To cap the weekend off, Stephen and Leif Zimmermann (Bozeman, MT) were named the 2009 overall U.S. champions.
The U.S. championships put a cap on the 2009 U.S. Cross Country season. Athletes now head into their training period in preparation for the 2010 season.
2009 U.S. CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
Fairbanks, AK - March 29, 2009
Men's 50K/Women's 30K
1. Stefan Kuhn, Canada, 2:30:06.8
2. Ivan Babikov, Canada, 2:30:14.1
3. James Southam, Anchorage; APU, 2:31:40.5
4. Noah Hoffman, Aspen, CO; U.S. Ski Team, 2:32:21.2
5. Glenn Randall, Collbran, CO; Dartmouth, 2:33:29.5
6. Bryan Cook, Marquette, MI; CXC, 2:34:11.7
7. Torin Koos, Leavenworth, WA; U.S. Ski Team, 2:34:48.2
8: Graham Nishikawa, Canada, 2:34:57.5
9. Chris Cook, Rhinelander, WI; U.S. Ski Team, 2:36:24.8
10. Garrott Kuzzy, Hayward, WI; U.S. Ski Team, 2:37:00.9
1. Liz Stephen, East Montpelier, VT; U.S. Ski Team, 1:38:20.5
2. Morgan Arritola, Ketchum, ID; U.S. Ski Team, 1:38:34.6
3. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage; U.S. Ski Team, 1:39:09.6
4. Kristina Strandberg, Sweden, 1:40:03.6
5. Rebecca Dussault, Gunnison, CO; Saab, 1:40:16.9
6. Caitlin Compton, Minneapolis, MN; CXC Elite, 1:40:52.0
7. Morgan Smyth, Vernon, VT; U.S. Ski Team, 1:42:24.8
8. Becca Rorabaugh, Fairbanks, AK; APU, 1:42:28.9
9. Kate Pearson Arduser, Cordova, AK; APU, 1:42:39.4
10. Holly Brooks, Anchorage; APU, 1:43:28.0
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For complete results click here.