World CupChecchi Leads Strong Italian Showing in Men's 15km Freestyle

FasterSkierJanuary 26, 2008

Valerio Checchi of Italy won his first ever World Cup event, besting Rene Sommerfeldt of Germany by 8.3 seconds. Fellow Italian Pietro Piller Cottrer was third, 13.2 seconds back.

The winner – Valerio Checchi (ITA)

Kris Freeman gained World Cup points with a 29th place finish. Freeman was 14th after 5km and 24th after 10km. He finished 1:28 out of the win.

“Kris started conservatively and was 14th after the first lap but midway through the second lap he started losing some time. He just doesn’t have his fitness level back,” US Ski Team Head Coach Pete Vordenberg said. “He’s handling it well, but we all know he can do so much better when he’s healthy. Unfortunately, he’s not healthy, not even close to his real potential, this week. He’s getting better every day, but Kris certainly is not there yet.”

Canadian George Gray continued a strong week, following his 17th in the pursuit with a 25th today, 20 seconds out of the top 15.

“Those hills are relentless and I just pushed as hard as I could,” said Grey, who made his Olympic debut in 2006. “I was a little tired today, but anytime you get into the top-30 on the World Cup is a job well done. Things seem to be turning around here with some strong results in Canmore.”

The Canmore courses are gaining the reputation as some of the most difficult on the World Cup circuit.

Garrott Kuzzy was the second American, with a strong 34th place, +1:46. Leif Zimmermann was 38th, James Southam 44th, Lars Flora 49th, Zack Simons 51st, Mike Sinnott 55th, and David Chamberlain 57th. Zach Violett did not start.

“This was a really good day for Garrott Kuzzy and Leif, and it’s got to be the best skate race from Kate, so those are definitely positive developments to have them ski that well. I’m really pleased with what they did,” said Vordenberg, also referring to American Kate Arduser who placed 39th in the
woman’s 10km event.

Swede Anders Soedergren started extremely fast, leading at 5he 5km mark by 9 seconds. He was second at 10km, 5 seconds behind Checchi, but dropped significantly over the last lap. He had caught Norweigan Tord Asle Gjerdalen, stylish in his aviator sunglasses, from 30 seconds back. Gjerdalen locked on the Swede and dropped him late in the race, taking 23 second back by the finish. Soedergren finished a solid 8th and Gjerdalen 11th.

Checchi getting congratualtions form the Italian team

Racing continues tomorrow with a skate sprint.

More photographs and race coverage can be found on the FasterSkier World Cup Blog.

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