It wasn’t the same kind of power that Kris Freeman used to propel himself to top-ten World Cup results this winter, but it was enough. With an effort that “would have just barely scored World Cup Points,” Freeman skied his way this morning to the national championship in the 15k skate in Anchorage.
After contracting the flu over Christmas, Freeman said that he’s “been trying to build his way back up ever since.”
Today’s effort he said, was only the second time since coming home that he “went hard and felt good.”
Freeman’s victory was by no means a given. Four k into the race, APU’s James Southam was a few seconds up on the eventual winner, who started just 1 bib–30 seconds–ahead of him. But unlike Southam, who went out hard, Freeman started slow, and eventually reeled in the Alaskan.
“I started pretty aggressively,” Southam said. “I wanted to beat Kris. He tends to start a little bit conservative, and I was hoping to catch him on the first lap. I got halfway there.”
The race of the day belonged to CXC’s Tad Elliot, who surprised everyone by skiing his way into second place, just 25 seconds behind Freeman. Elliot, who rides a mountain bike in the summer for the U-23 U.S. National Team, said that “it was the perfect day at the perfect time.”
His goal for the season, he said, was to be able to ski his best at Nationals, especially in the 15k freestyle, given that it’s his stronger technique.
Despite the result today, Elliot said that he is still hoping to be able to pursue both sports.
“I’m trying to juggle them,” he said. “I’ve got awesome sponsors that are allowing me to do both.”
Check back soon for coverage of the women’s event!
Nathaniel Herz is a reporter for FasterSkier, who also covers city government for the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska. You can follow him on twitter @nat_herz.