The US Ski Team’s pre-world championship camp is being held in Ramsau, Austria this year. The team has been slowly gathering here over the past week. Newell, Koos, Cook, and Randall traveled here straight from Russia arriving first. Zimmerman, Kuzzy, myself and coach Grover came in a few days later. Stevens, Arritola, Smith and coach Whitcomb drove here from France and the U-23 Champs four days after we arrived. Valaas and Southam are due this evening. The rest of the team is going to meet us in Czech.
The skiing here has been great. The sun has been beaming for all but one day when it snowed. There are many more trails groomed for classic than for skating, which suits me since my recent compartment syndrome diagnosis has left me a pure classic specialist. Everyone is on their own training plan, trying to find the last gears that will bring success at the World Championships. Based on doctor’s advice I am limiting myself to ten hours of training per week. The more I train the more likely I am to aggravate my shins.
To make up for short sessions I have done intervals twice since arriving. I completed a four by eight minute level three workout the day after arriving. I wanted to adapt to the timezone quickly so I forced myself out of bed early and headed out on the trails with coach Vordy. My body was dead asleep during the warmup. My arms felt week and heavy and my head was spinning as I tried to focus on the tracks in front of me. The first interval woke me up and I felt better and better throughout the workout. It was not particularly impressive but it was meant to help me adapt to the six hour time change more than anything else. My second set of intervals was two days later. It was shorter at 4x4mins but the intensity was above race pace. I felt worked after the second rep but held my pace together for the next two repeats. Its hard to know how fast I was going since I was doing them alone, but I dug deep based on my trudgingly slow cooldown.
It is hard not to be jealous of my teammates when I see them skating every other day. I really do love skiing and it kills me to be limited to one technique. Fischer just came out with a new skate ski called the RCS Carbonlite Hole Ski, which has a cutout hole in the tip that improves swingweight. I have always been into the latest and greatest equipment. Randall and Newell have been training on these new skis and have had only positive things to say about them. I am dying to give my new pair a spin but my physical therapists and doctors want me to avoid irritating my legs as much as possible. That means, that at most, I will have only one more skate ski this year. It will be in the pursuit at Worlds. Hopefully the swelling and pressure will subside in my shins enough for one last hurrah this season.
I am not accustomed to preparing for competition when I know something is wrong with me. I like to be in control and to have everything perfectly organized. It is difficult for me to deal with the fact that I have an injury/condition in my legs that could derail my performances. I find myself looking past the World Championships and towards my surgery on March 3rd far too often. I keep telling myself that I need to stay in the moment. I have prepared well this year. Everything was going according to plan until Whistler when my legs quite literally gave out. I only have eighteen days left in this season. I need to believe in myself.
Kris Freeman is a longtime member of the US Ski Team and the top-ranked distance skier in the United States.