I woke up early this morning - I’m still not totally adjusted to the time change from Finland - and checked the FIS live results from Davos. Kris was 50th place. What the ****? Bad skis? Blood sugar problems? World class fitness evaporating in a week?
I didn’t have to wait long for the call. Bad skis it was. Kris double-poled 15K. Things were dialed and looking good. Skis were waxed (with klister). Then it started to snow a little bit. Then the sun peaked back out. Then it started to snow hard - dump down buckets. The skis were instantly iced up and going nowhere. So, minutes before the start, all the wax came off, and some untested hardwax was put on in a hurry.
Kris was happy for the first K of relatively flat. The skis felt fast and he put five seconds on Svartedal (9th place) who started 30 seconds ahead of him, starting conservatively. Then the climbing started and he had no kick. Zero. So he double-poled. He didn’t lose all that much time, at first. A little over a minute in the first 10K. At the top of the course on the second lap his arms were completely full of lactate and he was blown, so he decided to ride back down the start and drop out. But when he got to the start Legkov (16th place) had just caught him for 30 seconds, and he felt totally recovered. So what the heck - back out he went. The delusion didn’t last long. His arms weren’t going to take him up the hill at that pace again, and he still had no kick. When he tried to stride he would spin his legs in place and gradually come to a stop. He said he felt like he was in a cartoon. In the first 10K he lost just over a minute to the leaders. In the last five he lost over 1:15.
Kris was pretty hyperactive when he called. He said a few things followed by “you can quote me on that”, but I don’t remember exactly what they were. The overall message was simple. He’s fit - he feels amazing. He’s frustrated, but he can’t blame the waxers because he can’t see what they could have done differently. At the same time he’s completely confused at how everybody else seemed to nail it. The main message that Kris wanted me to convey is that he’s not casting blame for the situation on anybody. He had a totally dedicated wax staff busting ass for him, and he knows it. He’s had difficulty in these types of changing conditions before, and he can’t help but think that there’s something about himself, personally, that is part of the problem. He and Larry have already discussed changing some procedures, and he has not lost any faith in the waxers, but he also doesn’t have an answer to what might have been done differently today.
In the end, I think Kris’s understanding of the situation is a reflection of his confidence in his fitness. If he were basically not in the running and had bad skis, his mood would be much worse and he’d be putting blame anyplace he could find to put it. But as it stands, he knows he’s fit, and he’s just eager for another chance to prove it. He’s fired up for tomorrow’s relay where he’ll ski in the first leg. Tomorrow promises more of the same weather, so it’s a chance to get things right on the ski front, and come up with a little redemption for today.
Kris also noted that anybody who started in the first 30 today was pretty well screwed. That included pretty much all of the other North American guys aside from Kershaw. Those guys - a least the Americans - were out on Klister - the same stuff that was icing up on Kris’s skis when the snow started. They had a nice jog around the Davos race courses on high heels.
Well that’s it for today. More to come tomorrow…
Reprinted with permission from the Kris Freeman website at http://www.krisfreeman.net/. Copyright © Zach Caldwell and Kris Freeman