KUUSAMO, Finland (Nov. 30) -The U.S. Ski Team's Kris Freeman (Andover, NH) pulled within one minute of the leader to finish 16th in a World Cup cross country 15K race Sunday in Kuusamo. Freeman, a diabetic, tied for his spot for his second straight top 20 finish.
"I felt really good and I was thinking this could be my podium day. I was running in 10th place and I tried to put the hammer down in the last 5K and I just didn't have it," Freeman said. "It's nice to be disappointed with 16th rather than excited. I've had a really solid start and I hope to keep it going."
"What is for sure is, he's got two races in the top 20 at the World Cup level and we're off to a really steady start. I know that he feels like he's got more to give and he's looking for that podium," Cross Country Head Coach Pete Vordenberg said. "Before the race we were a little concerned with where his blood sugar was, but it didn't seem to affect him. I think we got it dialed in well for the race, but still towards the end where he should have started to really pick it up, he started to fade a little bit."
Martin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway won the race, followed by Czech Lukas Bauer in second and Sami Jauhojaervi of Finland in third.
Traditionally a standout in the sprint events, Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) finished 23rd in the women's race to mark her best distance result to date as the sole female competitor for the U.S.
"It was Kikkan's best distance race ever, so we're really happy about that," Vordenberg said. "Her best results are obviously in sprint, where she's been first. Her fitness is definitely there and she's podium potential for sure."
The Finns swept the top two spots of the female podium with Aino Kaisa Saarinen, who finished fifth in Saturday's sprint, winning the event and Virpi Kuitunen taking second. Norway's Marit Bjoregen was third.
The win by Norway's Johnsrud Sundby boosted him into the World Cup lead after three events, as it did for Finland's Saarinen in the women's standings.
The Team now shifts its focus to the World Cup in La Clusaz, France, which will have a long distance and team relay event Dec. 6-7.
"I can smell it - we're close to our first podium, we're just not there yet. I know it's not going to be put on the table, but I know it's there and the team knows it's there," Vordenberg said. "The mood is really good and it's off to the next races."
2009 VIESSMAN CROSS COUNTRY FIS WORLD CUP
Kuusamo, FIN - Nov. 30, 2008
1. Martin Johnsrud Sundby, Norway, 37:52.5
2. Lukas Bauer, Czech Republic, 36:56.0
3. Sami Jauhojaervi, Finland, 38:06.6
4. Eldar Roenning, Norway, 38:07.2
5. Devon Kershaw, Canada, 38:12.8
16. Kris Freeman, Andover, NH, 38:44.0
64. Chris Cook, Rhinelander, WI, 40:35.3
65. Torin Koos, Leavenworth, WA, 40:35.8
1. Aino Kaisa Saarinen, Finland, 28:16.4
2. Virpi Kuitunen, Finland, 28:20.2
3. Marit Bjoergen, Norway, 28:23.7
4. Marianna Longa, Italy, 28:31.7
5. Justyna Kowalczyk, Poland, 28:43.9
23. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, 29:48.0
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For complete results click here.