VAL DI FIEMME, Italy (Jan. 9)—The U.S. Ski Team’s Kris Freeman (Andover, NH) was seventh in the eighth and final stage of the Tour de Ski, an impressive finish in the 9k free technique pursuit to wrap up an encouraging tour. Freeman finished 28th overall over the stage race. Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) closed out the fifth annual Tour 23rd in Sunday’s event and 21st overall. It was the first time Americans had tackled the entire tour.
Norwegian ski star Therese Johaug took the win up the punishing Alpe Cermis, ending with a savage 3.7k climb up a downhill ski trail, in 33:14.4. Her teammates Marie Elden and Marthe Kristoffersen were second and third. Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland finished fourth but took the overall Tour de Ski title
The men’s final stage saw former Tour de Ski overall winner Lukas Bauer of the Czech Republic take the final stage win in 30:28.3 with Roland Clara of Italy second only 32.4 seconds back. Growing stronger with every stage Swiss number two man Curdin Perl was third just 33.8 back.
Freeman had extra drive in the Tour finale after being the victim of waxing challenges Saturday. "I was so frustrated by Saturday's stage that I had extra motivation," he said. "I lost six minutes of time Saturday. I know I'm in good shape and I am feeling fine. I put so much focus on the 20k that I didn't even preview the final climb. I am just glad that it ended up this way. I am even a little surprised by the final race, that I felt so good."
"We lucked out today," said Head U.S. coach Chris Grover following the race. "With our difficulties with wax Saturday, we felt it was very important for Kris to have a good shot at it and he displayed a great finish. For sure, he had a great deal of motivation out there, and we had really great skis today."
When Randall crossed the finish line she thought, "that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done," referring to the punishing final climb.
"I’m pleased with my Tour, I have a much greater appreciation of this event now, and I’ve learned so much," Randall commented, "We previewed the climb by skiing down it. But it’s so steep that the muscles cramp up and you have to dig deep. But it’s pretty cool."
Grover also announced that the duo of Kikkan Randall and Andy Newell (Shaftsbury,VT) will travel Monday to Liberac, Czech Republic to race in the next World Cup, slated for Saturday, with individual free technique sprints.
Tour de Ski – Stage Eight
Val Di Fiemme, Italy - Jan. 9, 2011
9k Free Pursuit
1. Lukas Bauer, Czech Republic, 30:28.3
2. Roland Clara, Italy, 31:00.7
3. Curdin Perl, Switzerland, 31:02.1
4. Vincent Vittoz, France, 31:03.3
5. Petter Northug, Norway, 31:07.3
7. Kris Freeman, Andover, NH, 31:22.2
1. Therese Johaug, Norway, 33:14.4
2. Marie Elden, Norway, 34:14.8
3. Marthe Kristoffersen, Norway, 35:08.3
4. Justyna Kowalczyk, Poland, 35:13.7
5. Valentina Shevchenko, Ukraine, 35:21.2
23. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, 37:07.6
Final Tour de Ski Standings - Men
1. Dario Cologna, Switzerland, 4:28:02.0
2. Petter Northug, Norway, + 27.3
3. Lukas Bauer, Czech Republic, + 1:44.41
4. Curdin Perl, Switzerland, + 1:58.2
5. Roland Clara, Italy, + 2:06.5
28. Kris Freeman, Andover, NH, + 13:33.5
Final Tour de Ski Standings - Women
1. Justyna Kowalczyk, Poland, 2:47.31.0
2. Therese Johaug, Norway, +1:21.5
3. Marianna Longa, Italy, +2:40.7
4. Arianna Follis, Italy, +3:19.9
5. Charlotte Kalla, Sweden, +4:27.7
21. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, +11:08.5