Name: Liz Stephen
Hometown: East Montpelier, Vermont
Sport: Cross Country Skiing
Current Location: Park City, Utah
Best Career Performance: 16th place finish in the 30km race at 2011 World Championships
2012 Goals: Top 10 world cup finish and qualifying for world cup finals (top 50 on the world cup points list)
Q. How did you get into your sport? What made you decide this was your sport?
A. I grew up as an alpine ski racer and went to Burke Mountain Academy, a ski school in Vermont. I switched to Cross Country when I was 15 and continued to go to school at Burke. I have been a runner my whole life, so the endurance aspect of Cross Country skiing fit perfectly into my life as a runner already.
Q. How do you keep going when it gets hard, or on those days you just don't want to practice?
A. I am actually having one of those days right now, where it is tough to get out the door. The reasons are constantly changing, today it is because finding a good training location is tougher than usual, but how I get myself out the door even when I can't stand the idea of it is usually the same. I remember that I am incredibly lucky to have a job that lets me do what I love to do every day of my life, and then I try to channel some good energy from a really fun workout I did once. Usually I really enjoy my job, but the days I don't, sometimes I just have to do something fun to mix it up. Sometimes, I have to change the workout up, just go play a game, or go for a run in the woods because it's fun and not on the training plan. The most important thing for me to remember is that all of this is supposed to be fun and I am at my best when it is fun, so when it becomes a chore for a few days in a row, I have to switch it up.
Q. How do you get yourself to eat healthy? Do you have a favorite snack?
A. My favorite healthy snack is ants on a log, for sure. I love celery and raisins and the peanut butter just ties it all together. I eat healthy because I know how much of a difference it makes in how I feel during training and in life. I have more energy, feel better, and know I am doing all I can to be the best I can be. Fueling is a huge part of my job, in both keeping me from getting sick and making sure my body is able to use all the fuel I give it in the proper ways so as to provide me with the best energy I can have.
Q. Who were your role models and how did they influence you, especially at a young age?
A. Steve Prefontaine was my biggest sport figure influence growing up. I read books about him, watched every movie that came out about him and thought about him overcoming the odds to become America's best distance runner. He was inspiring, and though he seemed very cocky, I loved to watch him run. Picabo Street was my female idol, mostly because she was super nice when I met her at US Nationals one year. I had made her a paper-mache mask that was supposed to look like her, and she took it and thanked me and smiled, which meant the world to me. It made a huge impression on me that she took the time to be nice to me, sign my helmet and at least pretend to be excited to wear the mask I had made!
Q. Do you have tips for girls who don't have many female training peers or role models?
A. The reason I am still in sport is because of all the support I have had from friends, coaches, teammates and family. Without those supporters, I would not enjoy what I do. My advice is to work really hard and love what you do and make sure you find some friends who want to support and help you along the way. There are a lot of girls who want to be active and live healthy lifestyles, so find them. Be a leader for others in your town, start a Fast and Female training group and make it really fun so everyone wants to come. You can do anything you dream of if you set your mind to it, so dream really big and never give up. There are so many inspiring people with stories that are amazing. Look them up, read about them, and then write your own story!
Q. What does it mean to you to be Fast and Female?
A. Being Fast and Female is simply to feel empowered by what you do and who you are. For me, I am a cross country skier who tries to be the best role model I can for others, and give back to my community as much as possible, to hopefully inspire others to set far off goals that they want to achieve. You become Fast and Female by your actions and what you set out to achieve. Be proud of whom you are and what you do, no matter what that is, and give back to others and you will be Fast and Female for your whole life.
Compiled by Nancye Rahn