Freeman Wins U-23 30-km Gold!
The Under 23 world championships are a new event for FIS, and Thursday marked the official start of the annual games. Bormio, where the races are being held, is classic Italian skiing with almost no snow. The race courses are all on man made snow, and despite the cool mornings, the extremely sunny weather makes for spring like skiing.
Kris Freeman (right) shown here at the US Nationals 30K Classic
Kris Freeman made history today by winning gold in the U-23 30k mass start classic race. Not only did Kris win, but he blew away the field by 1:45. Freeman was the top ranked skier in today’s competition and therefore started in the front of the pack.
The pack of 70 skiers held together for the first of 9 3k laps. By the first uphill of the second lap Freeman made his move from around 10th to the lead. According to freeman he was just moving up to put some pressure on the pace, but by the end of the steep climb he had a few meters on the field. A few meters turned onto 30 seconds by the third lap, and up to a minute by the 5th.
By Freeman’s 7th lap he was ahead by 1:45 and held that advantage until he crossed the finish line. Kris’s gold medal performance goes down in history as the first American cross-country skier to win a world championship event.
Swede Johan Olsson finished second (1:20.25.6) with the bronze going to German Sebastian Schlott (1:20.26.0).
Our other USA skiers had excellent races as well with Ethan Foster in 18th and Chris Cook in 21.
In the women's race, Three Swiss and two Norwegians clogged the top five spots. Seraina Mischol of Switzerland won in 45:29.7 with Norway's Kristin Steira Stoermer second at 45:47.0. The American women also had great races. Aubrey Smith (Seward, AK) was 12th in 47:49.3 with Lindsey Weier (Mahtomedi, MN) 15th, Erin Whitmer (Fairbanks, AK) 16th and Melissa Oram (Taberg, NY) 20th.
The championships, listed as Continental Cup races but the first championships for skiers 23 and under in an effort by FIS to create a level between juniors and the World Cup, continue Friday with freestyle sprints. They conclude Sunday with duathlon races in which skiers start in classic technique (5-km for women, 10-km for men) and finish in free technique over the same distance.
Some quotes from Feeman:
“It went really well. I didn't expect it to be quite a blowout,” Freeman said. But with the others “playing cat and mouse on the first lap and then again on the second,” he pulled away on an uphill early in the second of nine 3.3-km loops and kept fattening his lead to the end.
“I knew I had fast skis,” he said, and when no one could keep up with him on the second-lap uphill, “I decided to break it open.” he began to pull away, asking Coach Pete Vordenberg at one point whether he had the right strategy; they agreed he should ski under control and see how the field responded.
“Kris was running fifth or sixth when he took off,” said Development Coach Chris Grover. “At the end of the lap, he was 15 seconds ahead, and then 30 seconds and he was adding 10-15 seconds every lap. In the last lap, they tried to catch up but it was too late. Kris didn't pound it once he had a good lead; he was under control the whole way.
“This was a tough 30, lots of climb but he skied well. The U-23s were his focus this season,” Grover added, “and he's ready to go.”
Source: Andrew Newell and US Ski Team Press Release