The US Men are now officially back in the World elite in Cross-Country skiing. In todays phenomenally exiting double pursuit race (perhaps called Skiathlom next year)both Carl Swenson and Kris Freeman was in the lead group the entire race to the end.
The race started out with a field on 86 skiers in a mass-start format. The entire 3.3km classical course had 4 tracks, and Carl and Kris were able to ski up from their start positions up to the front relatively early in the race. After 3 laps on the classical course, the “pit stop/equipment exchange” in the stadium went smooth for everyone – although the men in general used longer time to change equipment than the women did the day before (time is included in the results for the pit stop as well).
The reminder of the race was done on a different 3.3 km course, groomed for skating only. The lead group skied their skate laps in about 7:30 min, together in a group of about 20 skiers. Carl and Kris was in the front all the way, Carl even leading the group going upi the first hill out of the stadium on the very last lap. Soon after this point, with about 2 km to go, the eventual winner, Per Elofsson “put the hammer down”. He passed Carl on top of a long hill, and spread the “peleton” going up the next 1 km. Carl and Kris ended up skiing in the middle of the lead pack at this point, and stayed pretty much in this position going down the fast course towards the stadium. The easy finish of the race invited to “no pole” skating into the final sprint, and the Swede Elofsson was able to cleverly use some “drafting effect” to his advantage in the last 200 m of the race.
Managing the race as one of the Jury members (I will come back to what the Jury does in a later article), I could hardly keep the required neutrality due to the unfamiliar situation of having US skiers in contetion for World Championship medals.
Carl finished 11th, Freeman 14th.
This race format is now already being hailed as the future of our sport, and is giving Cross-Country skiing a large boost. The TV, press, media and spectators loved the action of this race format, and as the King of Norway said as he wathed the last lap: ” This is almost too exiting”.
Big cheers to the US skiers from the stadium in Val Di Fiemme
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