5 Vermonters Make World Cup Championship Team

On Jan. 18, U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association named 17 athletes who will compete in the International Ski Federation’s 2017 Nordic World Ski Championships in Lahti, Finland. Five of the skiers are from Vermont—making up almost 30 percent of the team.

“This is undoubtedly the strongest team that the USA has ever fielded at a major championship,” said Head Coach Chris Grover. “We have many veterans with World Cup podium experience in this group – athletes that are at the heights of their careers and their racing abilities.”

Among those athletes are Sophie Caldwell, (Peru, VT), Ida Sargent, (Orleans, VT), Liz Stephen, (E. Montpelier, VT), Ben Lustgarten (Burlington, VT) and Andy Newell, (Shaftsbury, VT). With the exception of Lustgarten, the youngest of the group, these athletes have all competed at World Cup Championship and Olympic levels.

It will be the fifth World Cup Championship for Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT), who was second fastest in the Tour de Ski hill climb. Other World Championships veterans will include Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT) and Ida Sargent (Orleans, VT). This will mark the eighth appearance on a World Championships team for Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT), who was also on the podium for a freestyle sprint in January. Ben Lustgarten (Burlington, VT) won gold at the recent L.L.Bean U.S. Championships at Soldier Hollow in Utah.

The Feb. 22-March 5 event will be live streamed on NBCsports.com from Lahti. Grover said the location is the perfect place for the team to demonstrate their skills.

“Lahti is an iconic cross country venue with a proud tradition of ski racing and a massive fanbase,” Grover said. “The trails have been redesigned to provide more technical and aerobic challenges for the athletes and more opportunities to place the racers in front of the fans.  The atmosphere will be loud and electric.”

Competition opens on Thursday, February 23 and conclude March 4-5.

To read our profiles of Sophie Caldwell, Liz Stephen and Ida Sargent and learn how they helped the U.S. team ski during one of its best season in history—click here. For more on Andy Newell, who we profiled in 2015  as a Vermont Sports Athlete of the Year, click here.