GALLIVARE, Sweden (Nov. 18) - Kris Freeman (Andover, NH) opened his World Cup season Saturday with an 18th-place finish in a 15K freestyle race north of the Arctic Circle.
WCSN.com will stream video coverage from Gallivare later this week.
Norwegian Ole Einar Bjoerndalen - who left Utah's Soldier Hollow with four biathlon Olympic gold medals in 2002 - stormed through the final stages of the three-lap race to win in 33:05.6. Teammate Tore Ruud Hofstad was second (33:28.9) in the 25-degree fog.
Freeman, starting 61st in the 97-racer field, was second at the 2.3K mark and top-10 into the middle of the race before dropping back in the final lap; his final time was 34:12.4. It was his best performance since last December when the two-time Olympian was 18th in another 15K free World Cup race in Canmore, Alberta. Andrew Johnson (Greensboro, VT) was 58th and Dave Chamberlain (Bethel, ME) was 82nd.
Earlier, Czech Olympic champion Katerina Neumannova won the women's 10K in 24:17.9 with Estonian Kristen Smigun, the Olympic 10K classic gold medalist, runnerup in 24:42.8. Sarah Konrad (Laramie, WY) was 51st while sprint specialist Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, AK), using the race as a tuneup for her first sprint of the '07 season next week in Kuusamo, Finland, was 63rd.
"Kris is fit, and we said, ‘All right, roll it out and let's see what happens' - and he was in there until he slowed in the last two and a half Ks," said Head Coach Pete Vordenberg. "He felt like he was up to it, so he gunned it as long as he could. He's got more to give, as does AJ, but this is the first race of the season...and it's a solid start."
After warm weather Friday, cold returned during the night to harden the
5K loop "and the snow stayed cold all day. It was an icy, misty day but
skiing was really good," Vordenberg said. "The terrain is a windy,
twisty trail - nothing huge but a lot of climbs."
The men and women have relays scheduled for Sunday and Vordenberg said the U.S. men will have a team while the two women join with the Canadians for a mixed relay foursome. The season continues Nov. 25-26 at the self-styled Nordic Opening in Kuusamo with a sprint and classic technique races, a men's 15K and women's 10K.
VIESSMANN CROSS COUNTRY WORLD CUP
Gallivare, SWE - Nov. 19, 2006
Men's 15K FR
1. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, Norway, 33:05.6
2. Tore Ruud Hofstad, Norway, 33:28.9
3. Franz Goering, Germany, 33:35.8
4. Lukas Bauer, Czech Republic, 33:38.6
5. Lars Berger, Norway, 33:38.7
18. Kris Freeman, Andover, NH,.34:12.4
58. Andrew Johnson, Greensboro, VT, 35:18.1
82. David Chamberlain, Bethel, ME, 36:13.4
Women's 10K FR
1. Katerina Neumannova, Czech Republic, 24:17.9
2. Kristen Smigun, Estonia, 24:42.8
3. Marit Bjoergen, Norway, 24:51.4
4. Valentina Shevchenko, Ukraine, 24:54.8
5. Vibeke Skofterud, Norway, 24:55.2
51. Sarah Konrad, Laramie, WY, 26:42.7
63. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, AK, 27:03.9
For complete results: