SAPPORO, Japan (Feb. 27) - Kris Freeman (Andover, NH) leads a group of
four U.S. skiers competing Wednesday in the men's 15K freestyle race at
the 2007 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships.
Freeman, who lost
a chance to contend Saturday when a skier fell and took him down for a
short time midway through the skating portion of the 30K pursuit, said
he's in the best shape he's ever felt in midseason and he's been
pointing to this race. "I'm looking forward to the 15K. The time trial
[i.e., 30-second interval starts] - that's the real event," he said,
describing mass start races as "made-for-TV" events.
"I've never had more than four top-20s in a season," he said, adding
"and [the pursuit] was my fourth...and there's quite a ways to go."
Along with Freeman in the massive 121-skier starting pack will be
Andrew Johnson (Greensboro, VT) and two skiers from Anchorage, AK -
Lars Flora and James Southam. Freeman, Johnson and Flora were on the
2002 Olympic Team and Southam was thir teammate in Torino a year ago.
The off day with no competition in any of the three nordic sports gave
athletes and coaches a chance Monday to catch their breath, get in some
shopping ("It's an hour by bus into downtown Sapporo because of the
traffic or 16 minutes by train," Cross Country Head Coach Pete
Vordenberg said) or do something else.
Nordic combined skier Bill Demong (Vermontville, NY) took a busman's
holiday and went cross country skiing before playing some golf at an
indoor driving range. "It was pretty mellow," he said. He hooked up
with Sarah Konrad (Laramie, WY) and they discussed how to handle some
sections on the 5K course which was used Tuesday in the women's 10K
He also spent time watching episodes of 24, the Fox network hit show.
"We've got Internet in each room, so I downloaded a full year's worth
of episodes," he said.
Konrad, who never had been to Japan before Worlds, joined Team CXC
teammates Laura Valaas (Wenatchee, WA) and Caitlin Compton
(Minneapolis) in learning about the ritual aspects of the traditional
tea ceremony and wearing a kimono.
Vordenberg led his coaches and waxing staff to a sushi dinner. "It's
just such good sushi over here. They have better sushi in the grocery
stores than in a lot of restaurants I've been in at home," he said.
Nordic combined skiers have two new venues for their final event, the
traditional individual event, two normal hill jumps and a 15K race
Saturday. Everyone begins official jump training Wednesday on the
100-meter hill at Miyanomori, the historic site where Japanese jumpers
swept all three medals in the 1972 Olympic normal hill competition.
"The small hill reminds me of Lake Placid [NY - where he grew up skiing
and jumping]. It's a nice hill and I think we all had a good time
jumping there when we had a camp in Sapporo last fall," he said.
Coach Lasse Ottesen echoed Demong. "We've been lucky so far with no
real wind problems. Sapporo has run into wind through the years and
you're never quite sure what you'll find, but so far so good. When I
jumped [through the mid-Nineties for Norway], I liked the big hill
because you really had that feeling of flying...but the guys did well
here last fall, and I think they're going into the last comp with good