Kris Freeman recognized for athletic acheivement by diabetes care company

Kris Freeman recognized for athletic acheivement by diabetes care company{mosimage}Kris Freeman, one of the top cross-country skiers in the United States, has received an award from LifeScan, a company that makes blood-testing equipment for diabetics. Freeman, who was fourth in the 15k at the 2003 nordic world championships, has type 1 diabetes, the more severe form of the disease.

Freeman was awarded the 2004 LifeScan Prize for Athletic Achievement. Two other athletes receiving the award were Chris Jarvis, a champion rower from Canada, and Marco Peruffo, an Italian mountaineer.

‘At age 19, I qualified to train with the U.S. Cross-Country Ski Team’ says Freeman, who is now 23. ‘But just three months after beginning, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. My blood glucose level was nearly three times normal.’

Although his endocrinologist told Kris that his days as an elite athlete may be over, the young athlete was not willing to give up. He says, ‘I believed that with modern treatment, I could not only compete with the best, I could also beat them.’

Just over a year after being diagnosed, Freeman qualified for the Olympics in Salt Lake City. Kris finished 14th and as the leading American in the One-Day Pursuit event. He also participated in the Team Relay, helping the U.S. team to finish in fifth place, the best showing ever by a U.S. team in this particular event.

Since Salt Lake City, Freeman’s career has continued its impressive growth. He has ranked high in numerous international competitions, and he also captured first place in the 30K event at the Under-23 World Championships. Right now, Kris is the only U.S. skier to have won an international cross-country skiing championship of any kind.

When he was diagnosed, Kris was ranked as the 174th cross-country skier in the world. Now, he is ranked as 17th in a sport that has been historically monopolized by Europeans. He is among the so-called ‘Red Group’ the top 30 cross-country skiers in the world. No American before him has joined this elite group.

How has Kris done all this, while managing his diabetes? He explains, ‘I have carefully monitored my glucose levels. I have studied how different temperatures, altitudes, climates and stresses affect my insulin sensitivity. And I have learned to follow a specific regimen of insulin, as well as a specific diet.’

Impressive accomplishments, but the best for Kris may still lie in the future. At 23, he is young when compared to other world-class cross-country skiers. Kris can reasonably look forward not just to the next Winter Games, in 2006, but also to the following Games, in 2010. As he explains, ‘The optimum age in the sport is said to be 28. I can only get stronger.’

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