KUUSAMO, Finland (Nov.27)- The U.S. Ski Team’s Kris Freeman (Andover, NH) skied to a convincing seventh place finish in the men’s 10k classic event at day-two of the FIS Cross Country World Cup Saturday. Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) led the U.S. women in the 5k classic race in 17th, marking her career best non-sprint classic World Cup. With the cold, windy conditions continued to make a tough event even tougher it proved even colder than Friday. Located close to a large lake the high humidity doesn’t help either.
It was yet another big day for Norway’s Olympic-medalist powerhouse Marit Bjoergen to display her strength as she won the women’s event by less than five seconds ahead of defending overall World Cup champion Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland.
Randall said her race Saturday was much better than Friday's sprint where she failed to qualify. "Today was a much more satisfying race than yesterday's sprint," she said. "I was able to get in my top gear and hold it there. I skied aggressive from the start and felt strong over the whole course. I had a couple slips on a crucial hill around 3k that disrupted my rhythm and cost me a few seconds but overall I am very happy with the result. I feel like I've reached a new level in my distance racing and it's fun to feel like I'm actually in the hunt. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's skate race with the handicap start. Racing head-to-head always helps me find another gear."
In the men’s competition, Switzerland’s defending FIS World Cup champion Dario Cologna - who ran in second place for much of the race - turned in a strong performance to win by 6.7 seconds over Russian Alexander Legov. Friday’s 24th for Cologna may have provided some motivation for him Saturday.
Freeman’s starting position Saturday was determined by Friday’s results. He started early, working his way through the field with precision, as he was in 29th place following the first lap. On lap two, he ran the second fastest lap of the day, just one second behind Legov. It marked the second straight top 10 result in mid distance after last weekend in Sweden.
Freeman has, with little doubt, started this season demonstrating good fitness. “You know I started early today, but I was lucky to have guys like Lukas Bauer and Angerer just in front of me. I had a great second lap and moved way up. I feel like I am rested and stable and ready to race, We are monitoring everything and I am happy with this strong start to the season.”
U.S. Ski Team Crss Country Head Coach Chris Grover praised the athletes and the U.S. wax techs saying, “we just had great skis today, and that’s because of our waxing team. Freeman was great and Kikkan had a good race. I also look for skiers like [Morgan] Arritola, [Liz] Stephen and [Noah] Hoffman to move up Sunday as the race will be longer and in the skating technique.”
Grover also went on to praise Ida Sargent (Orleans,VT). “Her goal was to finish in the top 15 and she was just one second out of that goal. She’s skiing well," he added.
The final day of the "Ruka Triple" event will conclude Sunday with the running of the men’s 15k free technique handicap pursuit and the women’s 10k handicap pursuit. The three-day stage race is a new addition to the World Cup, a mini version of January's popular Tour de Ski.
In the overall FIS World Cup standings, Cologna is the leader followed by Marcus Hellner, while Bjoergen retains the lead with Chalotte Kalla in second.
November 27, 2010
Men’s Classic 10k
1. Dario Cologna, Switzerland, 23:24.8
2. Alexander Legkov, Russia, 23.31.5
3. Daniel Rickardsson, Sweden, 23:32.3
4. Eldar Roenning, Norway, 23:37.2
5. Axel Teichmann, Germany, 23:42.8
7. Kris Freeman, Andover, NH, 23.48.8
66. Noah Hoffman, Aspen, CO, 25:01.6
73. Simi Hamilton, Aspen, CO, 25:10.1
89. Andy Newell, Shatfsbury, VT, 25:32.6
104. Chris Cook, Rhinelander, WI, 26.21.1
Women’s Classic 5k
1. Marit Bjoergen, Norway, 12:51.9
2. Justyna Kowalczyk, Poland 12:54.0
3. Petra Majdic, Sloveian, 13.:08.7
4. Yulia Tchekaleva, Russia, 13:11.9
5. Nicole Fessel, Germany 13:14.4
17. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, 13:40.0
45. Ida Sargent, Orleans, 14:11.6
72. Liz Stephen, East Montpelier, VT, 14:40.8
75. Morgan Arritola, Sun Valley, ID, 14:41.2