GAELLIVARE, Sweden (Nov. 22) - The U.S. Ski Team's Kris Freeman (Andover, NH) carried the torch for U.S. athletes Saturday, finishing 20th in the first cross country World Cup of the season in Swedish Lapland, above the Arctic Circle.
"I thought the day was a good start. I felt like I skied strong and technically very smooth, but I didn't have that last five percent to put me up into the really good numbers," Freeman said. "I thought I had a chance for the top 10, and that would have been a perfect race. But a top 20 would have been a good day and that's what I did. I'm satisfied with today's race and I hope there are better things to come."
Swede Marcus Hellner pleased the local crowds as he won the event to mark a dual Swedish victory with Charlotte Kalla taking first for the women. Italy's Pietro Piller Cottrer was second and Petter Northug of Norway took third.
Freeman, a type 1 diabetic, finished just under 46 seconds off the lead to end with a time of 33.21.
"We are really happy with today's results and the way things are going," said Cross Country Head Coach Pete Vordenberg. "It was better than we expected. He skied really well and things are looking good for Kuusamo and beyond."
Freeman, known for finding his strength in distance cross country races, was the only athlete to compete for the U.S, male or female.
"Tomorrow we'll start a relay team and the goal is to get Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) and Chris Cook (Rhinelander, WI) some good races," Vordenberg said.
U.S. athletes compete Sunday in a 4x10K relay before moving on to Kuusamo, Finland for both sprint and distance races. World Cup winner Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) will join the Team in Finland for the classic sprint.
UniversalSports.com will provide same-day coverage from Gaellivare starting with the women at 11:50 a.m. ET. Universal Sports broadcasts into 30 million cable households, as well as providing free access to full race coverage online with commentary from Steve Schlanger and noted cross country expert Peter Graves.
2009 Viessmann Cross Country FIS World Cup
Gaellivare, SWE - Nov. 22, 2008
Men's 15K Freestyle
1. Marcus Hellner, Sweden, 32.35.2
2. Pietro Piller Cottrer, Italy, 32.36.6
3. Petter Northug, Norway, 32.42.1
4. Tom Reichelt, Germany, 32.50.1
5. Tore Ruud Hofstad, Norway, 32.50.2
20. Kris Freeman, Andover, NH, 33.21.0
Women's 10K Freestyle
1. Charlotte Kalla, Sweden, 24.07.8
2. Marit Bjoergen, Norway, 24.32.2
3. Aino-Kaisa Saarinen, Finland, 24.39.8
4. Therese Johaug, Norway, 24.41.5
5. Arianna Follis, Italy, 24.43.4
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For complete results click here.