Kuusamo, Finland – Kris Freeman (USA) finished 4th in the men’s 15km classic World Cup this morning. The result marks Freeman’s best World Cup performance ever – though he does have two 4th’s in the World Championships as well.
Freeman was just 2.2 seconds off the podium, and edged out 5th place finisher Norwegian Martin Sundby Johnsrud by just .4 seconds.
Freeman started conservatively, sitting in 62nd, 10 seconds off the pace at 1.1km. By 5km he had climbed to 32nd, but was 21 seconds behind the leader. He was unable to take time out of the lead over the next 5km, but he did continue to climb in the standings. At 10km, atill over 20 seconds back, he ranked 12th. A hard charge in the last third of the race, where he took 2 seconds a kilometer out of leader Maxim Vylegzhanin (RUS), brought Freeman up to his final position.
Eventual winner, Petter Northug (NOR), used a similar attack at the end to overtake Vylegzhanin and claim the victory.
Freeman continues to search for that elusive podium finish. He was 5th at this same venue in 2007, and also in Davos in 2003. All of his top results, with the exception of a 6th in the 30km freestyle mass start in 2003, have come in the 15km classic.
As mentioned above, he has also finished 4th twice in the 15km classic at the World Championships, both time less than two seconds off the podium.
Still, with the focus on the Olympics, this is an excellent start to the season for the top American distance skier since Bill Koch. His performance today followed up a solid 21st last weekend in the 15km freestyle in Beitostolen. He is showing no ill effects from last spring’s compartment syndrome surgery, and is clearly in excellent form.
Freeman now ranks 10th in the overall World Cup standings.
Additional race report to follow.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.