VALDIDENTRO, Italy (Feb.14) - Following several weeks off for some rest, Kris Freeman (Andover, NH) finished 16th in the men's 15K classic race Saturday in Italy Sweden's Anders Soedergren won, while Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland took the women's 10K.
"I had a really poor couple of races about three weeks ago in Vancouver and I just found out I have to have surgery this spring," Freeman said. "It's been a really hard lead up, so considering all that I'm pretty happy with the way things turned out today."
Immediately following World Championships, which begin next week, Freeman will fly home to have surgery at the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Vail, CO to treat compartment syndrome in his shins.
"It's something I've gone through before and it's very painful, I'm not looking forward to it," he said.
Over the course of the last three weeks, Freeman has been resting with hopes that he would be able to come back and ski in the World Championships. On Saturday, he was the fastest skier through the first split, then third and the second before trailing off to finish 16th.
"It's a sign that I haven't raced in a while. I need to do a better job pacing myself," he said. "But I feel like my fitness is there."
In the women's race Morgan Smith (Vernon, VT) led for the U.S. finishing 42nd in the first start of her career in World Cup distance.
Justyna Kowalczyk won the women's 10K in 29:37.4 over Italian Marianna Longa, who was 12 seconds behind. Kowalczyk maintained her overall lead in distance racing, while collecting her third win this season.
Cross Country Head Coach Peter Vordenberg said, "I think we can look forward to the races. All we need to do now is rest and get mentally prepared."
The FIS Nordic Ski World Championsips open this week in Liberec, Czech Republic.
2009 VIESSMANN CROSS COUNTRY FIS WORLD CUP
Valdidentro, Italy- Feb. 14, 2009
Men's 15K Classic
1. Anders Soedergren, Sweden, 37:58.0
2. Jens Arne Svartedal, Norway, 37:59.9
3. Johan Olsson, Sweden, 38:00
4. Martin Johnsrud Sundby, 38:13.2
5. Tobias Angerer, Germany, 38: 22.3
16. Kris Freeman, Andover, NH, 38:44
56. Chris Cook, Rhinelander, WI, 40:00.1
70. Lief-Orin Zimmerman,Bozeman, MT 42:15.4
DNF: Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT)
Women's 10K Classic
1. Justyna Kowalczyk, Poland, 29:37.4
2. Marianna Longa, Italy, 29:49.8
3. Petra Majdic, Slovenia, 30: 07.7
4. Valentina Shevchenko, 30:17.7
5. Sara Renner, Canada, 30:18.7
42. Morgan Smith, Vernon, VT, 33:13.0
47. Morgan Arritola, Ketchum, ID, 33:27.6
51. Laura Valaas, Wenatchee, WA, 34.03.9
52. Liz Stephen, East Montpelier, VT, 34.05.5