Kris was 20th today in the World Cup opener in Gallivare. It is (by his calculation) his best-ever points race in a 15K individual start skate. He started 30 seconds ahead of Marcus Hellner who turned out to be a (big) surprise winner. Marcus caught Kris at about 4K and Kris followed him to about 1K from the end when Marcus put down a huge move to pick-up about five seconds on Piller Cotrer for the win.
Following Hellner was comfortable for Kris, but it had him about at the limit. Kris has focused on energy management and health, and not on building his top-gear for the early season. The ability to find the last few gears is something he’ll have to pick-up with some more racing. As it is he skied right with the guys who beat him by over a minute last weekend in Muonio. As a first World Cup this is the best we could have hoped for. My take prior to the race was that a top-30 was the expectation, and a top-20 would be stellar. Kris was 15 (or so) seconds ahead of Angerer in 30th. 15 seconds in the other direction (the amount he lost to Hellner in the last K) would have put him in a tight race for 10th. The field is tight!
Kris definitely had the perfect ride out there, and that undoubtedly helped his race quite a lot. The good news is that he had the capacity to use the ride. His pla was to start conservatively and build into the race. He certainly did that. He was in 77th place, 29 seconds out at 2.3K. Incidentally, the leader at that point was Alexander Legkov who finished 22ns. Kris moved up to 40th place at 6.7 K and then 19th at 12.3K. In the last 2.7K he lost places to two guys – Matti Heikkinen and (you could have guessed) Axel Teichmann. In those same 2.7K he picked up one place on Legkov who faded (died) from 11th to 22nd.
Insulin dosing and blood sugar management was the best it’s ever been. Kris made some minor modifications to the strategy he used in Muonio, and finished the race at 157 – an excellent place to be. Skis were excellent – he felt that he had better skis than anybody he saw on the course, including Hellner. Health is good – he raced at his limit for about nine or ten K, held up well, didn’t fade badly, and recovered quickly and well afterwards. Things look good for the coming weeks.
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