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XC Kicks Off in Sweden Saturday

Thu, Nov  20, 2008 - By US Ski Team

GAELLIVARE, Sweden (Nov. 19) - This weekend the rollerskis finally come off as U.S. Cross Country Ski Team athletes shed their summer gear for the first cross country World Cup races of the season in Gaellivare, Sweden.

Kris Freeman (Andover, NH), Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT), Torin Koos (Leavenworth, WA) and Chris Cook (Rhinelander, WI) will compete for the U.S. in a 15K and a relay event.

UniversalSports.com will be providing same-day coverage of the cross country action in Sweden.

"I am really confident about the preparation we've done this year. We could surprise ourselves with a good result, but I'm really looking down the road. I'm viewing this as more of a preparation weekend," Cross Country Head Coach Pete Vordenberg said.

The Team, which has been in Finland for the past two weeks participating in several FIS races, is adjusting to their competition environment.

According to Vordenberg, while being at the first World Cup of the season does hold a lot of excitement, the U.S. athletes are focused on hitting a stride and peaking in their performance after spending a little more time in Europe.

"It's the first World Cup of the season and it will only be our second week in Europe so I think it's still going to be a step up as far as results go, but it's not going to be our top weekend of the winter," Vordenberg said.

The last time Gaellivare hosted a cross country World Cup was November 2006, during which Freeman led the U.S. finishing 18th in the 15K and the team event. But, as far as Vordenberg is concerned, Freeman will likely not reach his peak for a few more weeks.

"Historically Kris takes three weeks in Europe before he hits his stride and this is only the second week," Vordenberg said. "I think we can look at a top-30 result, but next weekend we should start looking for some great results."

Freeman and Co. take the stage in Sweden on Saturday for a 15K before joining forces for the team event on Sunday.