Today’s Norway Cup skate race was Kris’s first real race of the year. He finished 20th, a little over a minute out of the lead. It certainly wasn’t a mind-blowing effort - in his first race last year he was 18th in a World Cup. But today he showed the signs and qualitites that we wanted to see, and his performance was on-par with expectation.
One main focus of the training this year has been to build the capacity to accelerate through a 15K effort and finish fast. Last year Kris regularly lost up to a minute to the top skiers in the last 5K of a 15K race. When we talked yesterday the priority I gave Kris for today’s race was to pace it well, and to accelerate. He did that.
However, he may have started a bit easy. At 1K he was in 79th place (compare that with a year ago when he was running in the top one or two spots for the first few Ks). Through the first of three 5K laps he felt that he really hadn’t started work yet. In the second lap he put the hammer down, and his splits reflected that. He moved up a great deal and was running in 19th place at 10K. In the last lap he felt quite tired - and figured he’d faded a bit. He dropped one position to 20th place.
The training load last week was pretty hard, and when I talked to him yesterday he was feeling the load. Last night, for the first time since he arrived, he slept 11 hours rather than about 8.5. My feeling is that he started a bit conservatively, and then felt the training load when he put the hammer down. The good news is that, when he “died”, he didn’t lose much of anything.
Today’s race wouldn’t have scored him World Cup points. You’re not likely to be in the top 30 with 5 Italians in front of you unless they really nailed the wax (or something else). But all things told the signs are good. Kris didn’t feel snappy, but he felt strong. He moved up through the field during the race, and he’s ready to have any easy sharpening week prior to next weekend’s World Cup.
Today’s results list was quite interesting. Giorgia DiCenta shared the win with a Norwegian I’ve never heard of. Tor Ruud Hofstad managed 28th place. In the past two years he’s had a first and a second in season-opening World Cups, and a week ago he was very impressive against the rest of the Norwegian National Team. I’m inclined to view today’s race as a mixed field, including a bunch of guys who have start-rights confirmed for next weekends World Cup, and a bunch of guys hoping to earn start-rights for next weekend’s World Cup. Norway has a Nations Group quota for the Beitostolen World Cup and the competition for those spots is intense. For the guys who don’t have a guaranteed start next week, this might be the biggest race of the year. My guess is that we’ll see a pretty different results sheet next week.
Reprinted with permission from the Kris Freeman website at http://www.krisfreeman.net/. Copyright © Zach Caldwell and Kris Freeman