BEITOSTOELEN, Norway (Nov. 14) - The U.S. Cross Country Ski Team is a leg up on the competition scene after competing in two days of FIS races in Norway where Kikkan Randall (Anchorage), Kris Freeman (Andover, NH), Liz Stephen (East Montpelier, VY) and Morgan Arritola (Ketchum, ID) have all had great early season results.
"It was a really good start for the year. It was our first competition racing of the season. Our expectations were only to have a good training outing and that is what we got," Cross Country Head Coach Pete Vordenberg said.
The series of races kicked off Friday with a classic sprint where Randall led the way for the U.S. making it through to the second round of racing.
"I definitely have some good endorphins flowing after a hard effort yesterday. Pushing the body through a whole race is definitely a shock, but I am feeling good," Randall said.
Saturday's men's 15K freestyle race topped the charts for excitement as Freeman fought his way within two spots of the podium, finishing fifth in a World Cup caliber field.
"The race went really well today. I've been feeling really good the last couple weeks before coming over here, so it's not a big surprise," Freeman said. "It's very nice to have my legs healthy and my body healthy and just go out and show what I can do."
According to Freeman, the snow in Norway was a very familiar consistency and one that he has been preparing himself for.
"It was really soft snow today and that's very similar to how it will probably be in Whistler. That's the type of condition I've been tailoring my training for and it paid off today," Freeman said.
According to Vordenberg, while the coaches hadn't been looking for top results, Freeman's fifth was a welcome addition to the weekend of racing.
"I'd say it was his best early season result. We weren't looking to have great results so early, but he nailed it and I was really pleased with it," Vordenberg said.
On the women's side Vordenberg was pleased with Stephen's 16th and Arritola's 24th given the athletes' experience racing against a World Cup field.
"Usually they'd be in West Yellowstone now, but it was good to get them up against a World Cup field so early in the season," Vordenberg said. "They both didn't know what to expect at this level of racing, but we got the jitters out of the way and we had some good races, too."
The racing continues in Norway on Sunday with a women's 5K and men's 10K classic as well as a women's 12.5K and men's 15K mass start.
"I really don't know what to expect going into tomorrow, but I am looking forward to going out, skiing a 5K and having fun," Randall said.
For complete results from Norway click here.