FALUN, Sweden (March 24) - Kris Freeman (Andover, NH) finished 19th Saturday in a slushy 30K pursuit race at the Swedish Ski Games as the World Cup season nears its final event Sunday. World Cup champion Tobias Angerer of Germany won a final sprint with three others while ex- champion Marit Bjoergen of Norway took the women's 15K pursuit.
In sunny, springtime conditions, with the temperatures around 40 F., Angerer
won in 1:31.18.0 with Swede Mathias Fredriksson second, 0.2 seconds back.
Freeman, who was part of the lead pack through 25Ks, finished in 1:32.31.4. Lars
Flora (Anchorage, AK) was 59th.
In the women's race, Bjoergen took charge in the final 7.5K freestyle technique phase, winning in 51:40.9 with Czech Katerina Neumannova runnerup (51.44.1). Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, AK), breaking into distance racing as she reaches beyond her traditional sprint strength, was 46th.
"It was a very tough day," Coach Chris Grover said. "There were patches of water in the tracks and pure ice elsewhere. It was a very slow 15K for the women and then the guys found unreal soft conditions."
Freeman was the last skier out of the stadium in the 15K classic technique stage of the mass start race, Grover said, "and we thought he'd fallen. But he just got a slow start, and then he started making up time and moving forward."
At the 20K mark, Freeman was 12th, but he was only 2.2 seconds off the leaders, Angerer, Fredriksson and Anders Soedergren, also of Sweden. By 25 kilometers, Freeman was 21st, 24.5 seconds back.
"The leaders would get strung out on the ups, then accordion back together on the downhills. It was really over the last five Ks where the lead group made a little move on the second group," Grover explained. "It was tough to pass because snow alongside the track was so soft, and Kris just got stuck back there. But it was another good race for him, a good end to the World Cup season."
It was the sixth international top-20 of the season for Freeman, a diabetic who earned four in World Cups - including 10th in a 15K freestyle in China - and two at the World Championships. He also has won two U.S. titles and goes for two more at the long distance U.S. Cross Country Championships, which open Friday in Presque Isle, Maine, at the Maine Winter Sports Center.
The World Cup season conclues Sunday with men's and women's relays.
VIESSMANN CROSS COUNTRY WORLD CUP
Swedish Ski Games
Falun, SWE -March 24, 2007
Men's 30K (15+15) Pursuit
1. Tobias Angerer, Germany, 1:31.18.0
2. Mathias Fredriksson, Sweden, 1:31.18.2
3. Emmanuel Jonnier, France, 1:31.18.4
4. Anders Soedergren, Sweden, 1:31.19.2
5. Vincent Vittoz, France, 1:31.31.9
19. Kris Freeman, Andover, NH, 1:32.31.4
59. Lars Flora, Anchorage, AK, 1:40.47.2
Women's 15K (7.5K+7.5K) Pursuit
1. Marit Bjoergen, Norway, 51:40.9
2. Katerina Neumannova, Czech Republic, 51:44.1
3. Therese Johaug, Norway, 51:46.7
4. Evi Sachenbacher Stehle, Germany, 51:51.4
5. Kristina Smigun, Estonia, 51:52.2
46. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, AK, 56:16.2
For complete results: