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Freeman 21st in 50K CL at Holmenkollen

Sun, Mar  18, 2007 - By US Ski Team

OSLO (March 17) - Kris Freeman (Andover, NH) finished 21st Saturday in the men's 50K classic race at Holmenkollen in sunny, 45-degree weather, a race won by newly crowned 50K CL world champion Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset of Norway. Kikkan Randall(Anchorage, AK) was 38th in the women's 30K CL behind Finland's Aino Kaisa Saarinen.

Hjelmeset, who edged teammate and close friend Frode Estil by four-tenths of a second for the 50K title at the 2007 FIS Nordic World Championships in Japan earlier this month, won in 2:17.22; that was a mass-start race and Saturday's race had a traditional, 30-second interval start. World Cup champion Tobias Angerer of Germany was second in the field of 48 (2:17.31.8) and Estil was third, another 22 seconds off the pace.

Freeman, who was 27th in the 50K CL at Holmenkollen two years ago, finished with a time of 2:23.26.9. Lars Flora (Anchorage, AK) had to scratch because of sickness.

"Kris wanted to start at a pace he could maintain and he did well until he took a spill late in the race. These are three of the toughest laps anyone can ski and today the course was very technical on some places - ice covered with slush, so the downhills were especially tricky," Head Coach Pete Vordenberg said. "He was heading to a top-15 but he took a tumble and that took him out of it, but Kris did a good job. I've got no complaints with his race."

Saarinen finished in 1:23.55.7, a half-minute ahead of World Cup champ and teammate Virpi Kuitunen with Slovenian Petra Majdic in third place. Randall, the lone American and looking to build her base beyond her sprint skills, finished in 1:34.09.7.

"I'm really happy with where we are," Vordenberg said. "We've made good progress this year, but just because you've made one good step doesn't mean the you'll make the next one, so we have to keep working on things...and we know what we need to do. After 2003 [when Freeman was fourth and Carl Swenson, now retired, was fifth in races at Worlds and the next year when Freeman had fifth- and sixth-place results in World Cups, and the sprinters began to emerge], we thought, 'We're on our way.' And it didn't happen.

"Just like in a race if you get a good first split, it doesn't mean you're on your way, either. We have a tremendous amount of work to do, but I'm so encouraged by what I've seen and what we've done," Vordenberg said. "Now we need to make that second step."

The World Cup tour heads in Sweden for its final two races - classic technical sprints Wednesday around the Royal Palace in Stockholm and pursuits next Saturday at the Swedish Ski Games in Falun.

114th Holmenkollen Skifestival
Oslo, NOR - March 17, 2007
Men's 50K Classic

1. Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset, Norway, 2:17.22.0
2. Tobias Angerer, Germany, 2:17.31.8
3. Frode Estil, Norway, 2:17.53.8
4. Rene Sommerfeldt, Germany, 2:18.54.9
5. Sami Jauhojaervi, Finland, 2:19.01.6
21. Kris Freeman, Andover, NH, 2:23.26.9
Women's 30K CL
1. Aina Kaisa Saarinen, Finland, 1:23.55.7
2. Virpi Kuitunen, Finland, 1:24.26.3
3. Petra Majdic, Slovenia, 1:24.44.3
4. Claudia Kuenzel-Nystad, Germany, 1:25.22.5
5. Riitta Liisa Roponen, Finland, 1:25.27.9
38. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, AK, 1:34.09.7

For complete results: