Kris has clearly returned to a level of fitness that puts him solidly into World Cup points on any given weekend. This is an encouraging return to stability after a really rocky period beginning in mid-December and extending deep in January. He’s taken World Cup points in his last five races and it’s no longer news. We’ve been looking for a step-up to the next level and we haven’t seen it yet on the results sheet. Kris’s training throughout this period has been marked by a conservative distance based approach - really geared around reestablishing stability and security in his high level of base fitness. The hard efforts have come in races, and nowhere else. Physical sensations have been improving throughout, leading us to maintain the status-quo and let the situation develop. It’s apparent after this weekend that there will be no miracles (darn it!) and that the next step up will have to come in response to an adjustment of the load and stimulus.
This pursuit on Saturday didn’t get hard for Kris until the hammer went down on third of four trips up the big “mordarbacken”climb in Falun. Kris was in a large pack and he lost ten or fifteen seconds to the leaders up the hill on that third skate lap. Things came back together after the climb, but that penultimate lap was really just a prelude to the attack that Anders Soedergren made on the last trip up the hill. The field got permanently sorted-out by that one, and Kris came out on the tail end of things. He felt that he just didn’t have the capacity to match the pace of the leaders when the gauntlet was down. The good news is that he recovered quickly after burying himself, and picked up some places on the remainder of the race into the finish.
Today’s relay was a frustration because Kris felt that he was on the wrong skis. The day was much warmer, but the course had been aggressively salted, and was hard and fast in most places. Larry was not at the races this weekend, and he’s the guy who works directly with Kris on ski choice, and who knows Kris’s skis and preferences best. The other waxers picked a couple of pairs of skis that were fantastic in the really sloppy stuff, but felt quite slow where the track was hard. Kris’s plan had been to really test himself in this race, and that’s what he did. He attacked early and he attacked late, and he came in 9th place, 26 or so seconds off the pace. He was making up ground on the leaders in places, and the physical sensations were positive in his mind, but the result was frustrating.
Looking ahead there are three weekends of racing left. Lahti, with a 15K classic this coming weekend, may be Kris’s best opportunity for a really great result. He’s quite confident in his classic racing - today’s relay notwithstanding. At this point his training load will come way, way down. He’ll do just enough volume to keep his insulin sensitivity in the appropriate range. He’ll do sort short and very hard intervals on Friday before the Sunday race, and he’ll do another set mid-week before Holmenkollen. He’s coming off a period of very solid training and racing, and he’s been able to hurt himself more and more with each passing weekend. With a lowered training load and some sharpening we’re hoping for a good end to the World Cup season.
Reprinted with permission from the Kris Freeman website at http://www.krisfreeman.net/. Copyright © Zach Caldwell and Kris Freeman