Author of Story: Peter Graves
OSLO, NORWAY – U.S. Ski Team member Kris Freeman (Andover, NH) skied steady in Tuesday’s men’s 15k classic under cloudy skies, and bathed in fog. Freeman finished in 24th to lead the Americans with a time of 40:24.4 in the FIS World Nordic Ski Championships in Oslo.
Freeman went out with the lead pack consisting of eventual World Champ Matti Heikkinen of Finland for the first 5k. However, he lost stride not able to keep pace finishing the day in 24th. Heikkinen, who finished with a time of 38:14.7 landing Finland’s first gold medal of the Championships, outlasted a strong challenge by Norwegian Eldar Roenning finishing 13.3 seconds behind to take silver. Bronze went to Martin Johnsrud Sundby 31.9 behind the winner.
“I latched on to Heikkinen for about 5k and blew up spectacularly and wondered how I was going to get to the finish at 11k,” said Freeman of his race. “I was actually pretty surprised that I was still as good as I was at the finish. I was barely making forward progress. I think I could have had a much better day had I skied my own race. But you can’t complain when you have the chance. I didn’t have it in the tank.”
While Freeman led the Americans, the big surprise was the skiing of World Championship rookie Noah Hoffman (Aspen, CO) who was an encouraging 29th, and finished 1:51.5 behind the winner.
“This is a first class day for Noah who did a great job by skiing in the top 30 the entire race. He’s another young skier, like Sadie [Bjornsen; Winthrop, WA] and Jessie [Diggins; Afton, MN], that bodes well for the future of this team. Noah skied well under pressure and was super calm,” Grover added.
“It was hard. I think I started a little too fast, but felt pretty good,” explained Hoffman after the race. “I was definitely struggling with my classic in the beginning of the year but I always felt like it was there. I went to Boulder, CO over Christmas and worked with Zach [Caldwell] on technique and I think that helped a lot.”
The USA’s Lars Flora (Anchorage) and Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) also competed in Tuesday’s 15k classic finishing respectively in 39th and 51st.
Action will continue at Holmekollen tomorrow with the men’s and women’s sprint competitions.
FIS WORLD NORDIC CHAMPIONSHIPS
Oslo, Norway – March 1, 2011
Gold: Matti Heikkinen, Finland, 38:14.5
Silver: Eldar Roenning, Norway, 38:28.0
Bronze: Martin Johnsrud, Norway, 38:46.6
24. Kris Freeman, Andover, NH, 40:24.4
29. Noah Hoffman, Aspen, CO, 40:42.8
39. Lars Flora, Anchorage, 41:09.5
51. Simi Hamilton, Aspen, CO, 42:08.3