Today was the last intensity session of Kris’s July intensity camp here in Whistler. He finished up with a 30K pursuit time trial, and he looked great. I’ve seen Kris do a lot of these types of sessions, and he’s usually impressive. But this was particularly impressive - he skied with more than just strength and capacity. He had great energy, and he attacked the road pretty much from start to finish.
Dan Roycroft lined up with Kris again today, as did Jesse Heckrodt of the CVTC. We set-up ski speeds to keep things pretty close through the classic leg. What I didn’t quite expect was for Kris to attack the classic really hard. Dan dug in and skied with Kris for the whole of the classic leg. His skis were faster, and he took the opportunity to ski as though he were in a World Cup pack - doing what was necessary to hang on, and catching a bit of rest when he could.
None of the guys used pursuit boots today, so at the exchange everybody took a 2 minute break, except for Kris who took an extra 30 seconds to check blood sugar. Jesse arrived just as Dan headed out for the skate, 30 seconds ahead of Kris. Then the race exploded. Or maybe it was just Dan’s legs. The start of the course is a hard 1KM uphill that takes four or five minutes at race pace. By the top Kris had closed down the 30 second gap, and then he started piling it on. Dan might have paid the price for skiing the first 15K like it was a 15K, but he didn’t have much choice because that’s how Kris skied it.
At the finish Kris said “I want to feel like that in every race, all winter”. His honest assessment is usually pretty accurate, and he felt that today’s effort would have put him in position to contest the finish of a World Cup pursuit. He’s been there - in the pack - at the finish before. Being part of the race at the finish is a different thing. The way he looked today I can believe in that possibility.
How does one assess racing fitness in the Summer? You might well ask - Kris has never raced a time trial on this course before, he was on his own for the second half of the race, and while Dan is among the best in North America, he’s not exactly contending for World Cup podiums. When I say that I believe Kris can contest the finish of a World Cup pursuit skiing the way he did today, I’m looking at his energy - his motions, his tempo, his snap. I know that there are fitness gains to be made, but I also know that Kris has responded very well to this intensity camp, and that the critical part of being race fit on race day is energy management. One of the things we wanted out of this camp was a proof of concept. Kris and Pete and I all agreed on a plan that we thought would work - to have Kris carry a stabilizing volume training load, to ensure that he’s never far from a state of recovery, and to use short intensity camps with overall low training load to bring him into race shape. As a proof of concept this camp has gone extremely well.
On August 2nd Kris will do the mountain triathlon that he’s won for the past two seasons. That will give him a benchmark test, and it should be quite interesting. In the meantime we’ve got to be satisfied things are under control. Especially when we look back to a year ago, when we were rationalizing a less that totally encouraging treadmill test that came 10 day after a flat-out bad Sunapee test. He came back during the training season last year, but the instability in his fitness profile - his response to overload - was already established at this time. This year we’re looking at a more confident and more intelligent ski racer. I’m optimistic.
Reprinted with permission from the Kris Freeman website at http://www.krisfreeman.net/. Copyright © Zach Caldwell and Kris Freeman