Notes and Quotes: U.S. Men in the Olympic 15 k Classic

BrainspiralFebruary 14, 20144
Noah Hoffman raced to 31st place to lead the U.S. men today.
Noah Hoffman raced to 31st place to lead the U.S. men today.

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SOCHI, Russia – Noah Hoffman led the United States men in the Olympic 15 k classic today, placing 31st with a time of 41:02. Next came Erik Bjornsen in 38th, Brian Gregg in 47th, and Kris Freeman in 52nd.

Here are a few of their reactions to the racing in Sochi today.

On how the slushy conditions affected the already difficult race course:

“It was one of the hardest courses I think I’ve ever raced on. It’s really slow and tons of elevation, and there’s that 3-minute sustained climb there… I was racing really cautiously because you can go right off the edge so easily… I was trying not to put the hurt on myself today.” — Freeman

Erik Bjornsen follows Ville Nousianen of Finland on the final few kilometers.
Erik Bjornsen follows Ville Nousianen of Finland on the final few kilometers.

“I’ve been going out too easy a lot this year, so I was going out harder today and I don’t know if it was the right strategy.” — Bjornsen

“I talked to the girls, and they said that the whole course kind of catches up with you. Particularly, as you’re doing the blue 5 k, you’re going all the way to the top, and then you scream down the hill into the stadium but then you still have a good climb all the way into the tunnel. I tried to push pretty hard on the flats but relax a little more on the climbs and just keep my rhythm so I wasn’t so blown when I got to the top of that.” — Gregg

“I think it was a better effort than I have had in classic this year, but it was just a really tough course.” — Hoffman

“It was harder than I was expecting.” — Bjornsen

On the heat – air temperatures reached 50 degrees Fahrenheit:

“I don’t mind these conditions too much, but the heat, I think it got to me. I was falling over after the finish. I couldn’t really stand up.” — Bjornsen

“I mean, I love hanging out in this weather, it feels like springtime, like Spring Series.” — Hoffman

“I’ve raced in this type of stuff before. Heat doesn’t bother me that much.” — Freeman

On their klister skis:

Brian Gregg.
Brian Gregg.

“I think they were pretty good all around. Plenty of kick. Speed seemed pretty good. Except for that one Finnish guy, his were really fast. I think they were good enough to compete with.” —  Bjornsen

“Zach [Caldwell] did a great job on my skis today. I got passed by a couple of people out there today and my skis felt just as fast, and I never struggled for kick. It was not a skis issue at all.” —  Freeman

“The feedback from the athletes was that the skis were quite good. They seemed comparable to everyone else around them on glide, and maybe even a little bit better on kick than others. It sounded like the skis were good, and it sounded like it wasn’t that that hard of conditions to make good skis. It’s just classic klister conditions. Classic wet klister conditions.” —  U.S. Ski Team Head Coach Chris Grover

On missed opportunities:

“Obviously there are some guys skiing really fast. I had some really good opportunities for great rides, I had Rønning, Olsen, and Cologna all ski through me, and I couldn’t stay with any of them unfortunately.” —  Hoffman

On taking a wrong turn into the lap lanes:

“I was pretty happy with my classic race, with the exception of that last turn out there – I didn’t go to the right lane, I went to the lap lane. I was coming through the corner like, ‘oh! I’m an idiot!’ So I’m really frustrated about that, but other than that it was a really good race. I definitely was out of it, I wasn’t thinking quite straight there.” — Gregg

On not feeling on form:

Kris Freeman.
Kris Freeman.

“I was just really trying to have a peak come around for the Olympics, and I clearly missed it… There’s a total difference in your attitude towards racing when you’re on compared to when you’re off. When I was in Tahoe I was attacking, and here I was just trying to make sure I got to the top. It’s time to go back to the drawing board.” —  Freeman

On technique goals:

“We definitely try to develop classic technique that works in all conditions. And we see warm conditions like this on the World Cup sometimes. So we’re working on it and I think it’s coming along, even if the results aren’t showing it.  The striding has been good for me. The double pole felt better than it has, but it’s certainly a work in progress. I have some distance still to go.” —  Hoffman

“Classic isn’t usually my specialty, so I just wanted to ski a really smooth race and feel like I executed the race well.” —  Gregg



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  • davord

    February 14, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Not sure it was a good idea to put Freeman and Gregg in this race. Freeman isn’t in shape and these sloppy, wet conditions don’t suit him. I mean, we already saw in the skiathlon, when the conditions were rock solid fast, that he was 6:30 behind the leaders and was dropped pretty quickly in the classic portion of the race. Gregg is a much better skate skier than he is classic, why not keep him for the skate races? This is what happens when you don’t take a full team where there a couple more skiers capable of skiing these types of race better than others, and/or coaches have favorites and those that they’d like to start more than others, no matter the style, distance, conditions, etc. Had this been a regular world cup, these two guys would have been back in the 60’s and 70’s, like in this race: or this one: I am guessing Freeman is going to race one of the classic legs of the relay and the 50km as well.

  • Kris Freeman

    February 15, 2014 at 3:11 am

    No davord.
    I have had my chance at this Olympics and I recognize that my body is off. I will be stepping aside to let my teammates compete. However I do agree that there should be more distance men here. Matt Liebsch and Sylvan should be in the 50k

  • davord

    February 15, 2014 at 6:13 am

    Kris, I appreciate your honesty. I am sorry your body is off, you are a real trooper and deserve much better. Keep your head up!

  • E Pike

    February 15, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    Kris, I have a huge amount of admiration for the humility and grace you showed in your blog post and your comment here. Best wishes for next year/rest of this season and enjoy the rest of the Olympics!

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