If you had told me yesterday that Kris would be satisfied with second place in today’s rollerski race up Whiteface Mountain, I would have been very skeptical. As it turns out, Duncan Douglas showed up to win, and he won. Duncan’s got excellent physical credentials, and as it turns-out he had just about the fastest rollerskis available - the same set-up that recently won the rollerski world championship pursuit, according to Len Johnson of V2/Jenex. Len says these skis were about two minutes faster on Duncan’s training hill (no word on how long that hill is) than his Aero 150s, which are, in turn, around 5% faster than Marwe “6″ wheels which is what Kris was using.
Kris started the race according to plan - fairly conservatively. He heard Duncan behind him and figured that the pack was there. By the time he turned around to take a look, about three minutes into the race, they had put a pretty big gap on the field. After a while Kris asked Duncan to take the lead (there was a headwind), and Duncan came to the front and gradually skied away. Kris followed for a while, until he “blew up”, and had to back off. He notched the effort down and was able to recover within a few minutes. Pete told Kris that he got pretty ragged for a while, but the good news is that he was able to pull things together while continuing to ski at a high pace. The course had no recovery opportunities, so it is encouraging that he brought the effort back around.
Nobody else really challenged Kris today. Noah Hoffman had an impressive race (on urethane wheeled pro-skis - faster than the Marwe “standard”) to finish third. Billy Demong was the next guy on Marwes, about three minutes behind Kris. We’ll have to wait for results for official times - all of this is from Kris’s report. Newell and Koos chose not to race today.
Kris didn’t expect to be pushed very hard today, so from my perspective Duncan’s presence was a benefit. Duncan trained specifically for this event, and showed up with every advantage available to him. Sounds a lot like the competition at a World Cup. Kris responded the only way he knew how, and did his best to contain the damage when he couldn’t match the pace. Kris felt that he could have skied much more aggressively on a course with a few downhills - he had to hold his heart rate in the lower 170s today in order to stay on top of the effort.
For all intents and purposes, this test offers no meaningful objective measure of Kris’s capacity or fitness. Duncan Douglas won’t be at the World Cups with a 15% (or whatever) advantage in running speed. In realistic terms, the other guys in the pack today are fighting for World Cup starts, not for World Cup podiums. Kris has no previous time on Whiteface, so he can’t measure his current capacity against his past capacity. But Kris’s sensations were positive, and he learned something about where the line is currently drawn on his capacity to sustain an effort. Given that dialing pacing is a large goal at this point, today’s experience has to be considered valuable.
All things told, today’s effort sounded tough. I asked Kris how people looked, and threw out a few names. The answer in every case was “terrible”. It sounds as though that mountain made a whole bunch of our best skiers look pretty ragged. And although he felt strong enough to V2 the bulk of the course, Kris himself got pretty ragged when he was pushed beyond a sustainable level. The positive comments from Kris were reserved for Noah Hoffman, and for Liz Stephen and Morgan Arritola. Kris said he would have liked to have seen Noah’s result on Marwes, because he looked pretty legitimate. And he said the Liz and Morgan both looked good. Kris has a really good eye for the people around him. I’d say those are three names to keep an eye on this year.
I still need to check-in with Pete, but it sounds as though there has been little cause to change any plans or expectations. Kris will do the Sunapee test on Wednesday, and will maintain a pretty low load through that time. We may have to reconsider things at that point, but for now the expectation is that the volume load will come back up for eight or ten days after that test. Then Kris will fly to Utah for testing, and come back home for another week of training before traveling to Norway two weeks before the World Cup distance opener at Beitostolen. It all starts to happen fast now.
Reprinted with permission from the Kris Freeman website at http://www.krisfreeman.net/. Copyright © Zach Caldwell and Kris Freeman