Kris Freeman out-skied a host of other top US and Canadian racers on his way to winning the first official race of the 2006 Spring Series at the Maine Winter Sports Center in Presque Isle, Maine: the mass-start 15km classic.
Temperatures were in the upper 20's (F) and the trails were covered by just enough ice and heavily transformed granular snow that there were only very occasional dirty spots. The challenge however was on the many sharp, fast downhill corners where inevitably all of the loose snow was scraped off to the side leaving only rock-hard bare ice on some of the trickiest turns.
With less than a kilometer of easy terrain at the beginning of the race before the course headed down the first set of icy turns to the low point, there were skiers packed elbow to elbow leading to several crashes early on. Kris Freeman, just back from the World Cup and coming off of a close second-place in Saturday's “Demo” sprints, managed to stay upright however and immediately put the hammer down as soon as the course started climbing at around 1.5 or 2km.
Brayton Osgood of the Maine Winter Sports Center was gutsy enough to chase Freeman in the early going of the race. But in the last lap, with Freeman well ahead in first, it came down to a battle for second and third between three skiers: Atomic's David Chamberlain, FSx racer Zach Violett, and amazingly, Canadian junior skier Alex Harvey. Violett and Harvey pushed hard enough to drop Chamberlain before the finish, and come in roughly thirty seconds behind Freeman. Harvey managed to grab second, four seconds ahead of Violett, with Chamberlain holding onto fourth ahead of Justin Freeman.
Full results to come. Here are some pictures from the men's race: