Kris Freeman, the U.S.’s top male distance skier, will have a cutting-edge on-board computer system implanted into his skull this summer, completing his transformation into a race-winning cyborg.
Freeman, a type one diabetic, has been racing for the last year with the help of two devices: a continuous glucose monitor and an insulin pump. Those products have helped him render the effects of his disease all but moot.
But the computer, constructed by his longtime coach Zach Caldwell and known as the KF3000, takes things a step further. If it functions as intended, Freeman will not have to worry about things like pacing, technique, or tactics—the computer will take care of it for him.
“It’s pretty sweet,” Freeman told reporters in a press conference on Wednesday. “And no—you can’t have one.”
The KF3000 is the product of years of frenzied work by Caldwell, who built the device with the help of a Swedish assistant in an underground lair deep in British Columbia’s Callaghan Valley. A proving ground was maintained in an undisclosed location nearby.
In a four-hour interview with FasterSkier early last week, Caldwell detailed his plan for how Freeman will use the KF3000.
After a brief surgical procedure in July, Freeman will train using the device for the latter half of the dryland season, before using it in all of his races in the winter.
According to Caldwell, the flip of a switch will overlay a graphical display on Freeman’s field of vision, which will provide him with information.
Competitors are labeled with their names, as well as “life meters,” which rely on sophisticated physiological metrics developed by Caldwell that show how much energy each has remaining.
From a laptop, Caldwell will input commands that will be relayed directly to Freeman’s field of vision in all-caps, including “RELAX,” “SWITCH TO V2,” and “CRUSH THEM.”
According to Caldwell, after the surgery, there will be no visible signs that Freeman is actually a cyborg, save for one: his eyes will glow red when the KF3000 is switched on.
Nat Herz is an Alaska-based journalist who moonlights for FasterSkier as an occasional reporter and podcast host. He was FasterSkier's full-time reporter in 2010 and 2011.