LIBEREC, Czech Republic (Feb. 16) - Kris Freeman (Andover, NH), continuing to rebound from an early season sickness, was 26th Saturday in a 15K freestyle technique race on a 2009 FIS Nordic World Championships course. Head Coach Pete Vordenberg called it "probably his best skate race of the season."
Jean Marc Gaillard of France won the men's race in 28:01.3 with Czech Lukas Bauer, the World Cup leader, second in 28:13.4. Freeman, a diabetic who self-injects insulin a half-dozen or more times a day, improved as the race went along, and had a time of 29:28.9.
Freeman got out of a sick bed in early December and battled his way to a fifth-place finish in a 15K classic technique race in Kuusamo, Finland. But the sickness continued, sapping his strength and undoing his conditioning. He left early from the U.S. Cross Country Championships at Michigan Tech, skipping the sprint and team sprint to intensify his re-conditioning program. At the World Cup races in Canmore, Alberta, last month, he was 29th in a freestyle (skating) race and 22nd in a pursuit.
"Kris is still coming back after getting sick before Christmas and losing a lot of his conditioning," Vordenberg said. "This was probably his best skate race of the season and that's good. He skied a strong race, and skied hard, but you can see he's clearly missing the gearing of the guys who are winning. He's strong and smooth, but they have another whole gear he doesn't have yet. We've got a lot of season left, so I expect him to keep improving."
Temperatures were in the mid-20s for the men's race and warmed up slightly for the women's 10K race, which followed. "It was a little breezy, but not like the [nordic] combined guys have been getting at the jumps on that little mountain they're on in the distance," Vordenberg said. "The snow was pretty tough - a mix of manmade and dirty, rocky stuff they hauled in from elsewhere, but they stabilized it during the night, so at least it stayed hard. Yesterday, we were up to our ankles in sugar [soft, granular snow], so this was good."
Newcomers Garrott Kuzzy (Hayward, WI) and Leif Zimmermann (Bozeman, MT) arrived at midweek, "so this was some good experience for them, but we look for them to improve as they get their legs back under them," the coach said.
Astrid Jacobsen of Norway won the women's 10K race with a time of 20:54.6, just ahead of Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland (20:55.0). Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, AK), building her distance racing, was 46th.
Team classic technique sprints are on tap for Sunday. Vordenberg said Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) and Torin Koos (Leavenworth, WA) will race as USA-1 with Freeman and Chris Cook (Rhinelander, WI) as USA-2. Randall and Laura Valaas (Wenatchee, WA) will compete in the women's team sprint.
2008 VIESSMANN FIS CROSS COUNTRY WORLD CUP
Liberec, CZE - Feb. 16, 2008
Men's 15K Freestyle
1. Jean Marc Gaillard, France, 28:01.3
2. Lukas Bauer, Czech Republic, 28:13.4
3. Christian Hoffmann, Austria, 28:23.1
4. Pietro Piller Cottrer, Italy, 28:27.9
5. Anders Soedergren, Sweden, 28:29.6
26. Kris Freeman, Andover, NH, 29:28.9
59. Garrott Kuzzy, Hayward, WI, 30:43.6
60. Leif Zimmermann, Bozeman, MT, 30:45.6
Women's 10K Freestyle
1. Astrid Jacobsen, Norway, 20:54.6
2. Justyna Kowalczyk, Poland, 20:55.0
3. Charlotte Kalla, Sweden, 21:01.6
4. Evi Sachenbacher Stehle, Germany, 21:02.0
5. Valentina Shevchenko, Ukraine, 21:03.2
46. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, AK, 22:42.7
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Click here for complete results.