LIBEREC, Czech Republic (Feb. 27) - Norway came from behind in the final leg of the men's cross country team event to earn a gold at the FIS Nordic Ski World Championships Friday. Kris Freeman (Andover, NH) was impressive in the opening leg, skiing to fourth. The USA eventually finished 13th.
Freeman led off the relay for the USA, keeping pace with the best in the world running third and fourth most of the classic leg before finishing fourth, just 16.8 seconds behind leader Jens Filbrich of the silver medalist German team. Chris Cook (Rhinelander, WI) then took over the second leg, falling back to ninth. James Southam (Anchorage) and Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) finished things off skiing the two skate legs.
"Freeman got off to a great start. Cook, who has mostly been training for sprint, skied really well despite the training he's doing, so we're going to make some changes there this year. James was our third skier and then Andy, and both those guys faded," said U.S. Cross Country Head Coach Pete Vordenberg.
For Vordenberg, while World Championships has been a success for the U.S. that is building, it also shows the team where it needs to pick up the slack.
"It's been a good World Championships. We've had some really good results and at the same time we see where our weaknesses are and we keep working," Vordenberg said. "For us to compete in this kind of a race, we have a lot of work to do. We knew that going in. This race shows us potential, but it also shows us really where we are at and we have work ahead of us for this kind of racing."
Germany, which led the first three legs before being taken over by Norway, was second followed by Finland.
The U.S. Cross Country Ski Team continues its pursuit Saturday with the women's 30K relay.
"It's pretty exciting. We had the pursuit a while back where Liz was 15th and Morgan was 32nd," Vordenberg said. "Both of them skated to fast times so I think this is going to be a really exciting race. Both of them are young, but have a lot of potential, so I am really looking forward to it."
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2009 NORDIC SKI WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Liberec, Czech Republic - Feb. 27, 2009
Men's 4X10 Relay
1. Norway, 1:41:50.6
2. Germany, 1:41:53.2
3. Finland, 1:42:34.5
4. Italy, 1:43:13.0
5. Canada, 1:43:21.9
13. USA, 1:47:25.5
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For complete results click here.