FILE UNDER -- Nordic

Soldier Hollow X-C nationals: Freeman, Randall win classics

Soldier Hollow X-C nationals: Freeman, Randall win classics{mosimage}SOLDIER HOLLOW, Utah – Kris Freeman collected the third national title of his career Saturday, winning the 15-kilometer classic at the U.S. Cross Country Championships while Kikkan Randall added her fourth, including the second in 48 hours on the 2002 Olympic trails at Soldier Hollow.

Freeman had a time of 39 minutes, 38.1 seconds during the three-lap race to capture his first U.S. championship since 2003, with the silver medal going to Chris Cook in 39:56.1. Completing the podium in the field of 237 racers was James Southam.

Ivan Babikov, a Russian living in Canada, had the fastest race time (38:45.2), but under USSA rules, only American citizens are eligible for championships medals.

Freeman had mixed emotions, pleased with the victory (worth $1,200) but disappointed because he didn’t ski as well as he can. “Coming off the World Cup, I trained really hard the last couple of weeks because I was planning on just training through these [races] and try to peak at the Olympics.

“So I’m not in my best form right now. I could definitely feel it out there — I’m in shape, just a little sluggish, feel a little heavy … and moving forward I’m gonna train a lot less and just get rested, ready to rock” in Europe.

Freeman, a diabetic who self-injects insulin from a Lilly Humalog pen six or eight times a day depending on elevation and other circumstances, said he battled blood sugar problems Tuesday when he was the third American [behind Babikov] in a 30 km mass start skating race. Saturday, he said, “I felt like I skied the first half of the race really well and I was ready to pick it up, but my body just wasn’t there to do it today.”

He plans to skip Sunday’s 10 km skating race and rest before Tuesday’s 30 km pursuit, a 15 km CL race leading into a 15 km freestyle race.

The sunshine that embraced the men’s course changed between races and winds picked up as a storm front rolled into the Wasatch at the start of the women’s two-lap race.

Randall, the U.S. sprint champion from Thursday, powered her way through winds at several spots on the course, she said. Her winning time was 35:16.6 and she was followed by two juniors — Morgan Arritola in second place at 35:40.0 and Liz Stephen.

The wind, which flared at midday before the women’s 1 p.m. start, created harsh conditions for the athletes, Randall said. “The wind was tough, especially because the snow was kind of slow, so it was a double-whammy on those flat sections coming through the stadium. It was a litle daunting,” she said, “knowing you had a whole lap to go and not feeling that fast.

“And then approaching the finish stretch, you’re pouring it on as hard as you can and everything’s pushing back against you,” she added, smiling as she tucked her cap with the Matanuska Maid logo (the Alaska dairy which sponsors Randall) around her ears. “It was challenging but I think, for me, the more challenging the better.”

The championships continue Sunday with the skate races — men’s 10 km and women’s 5 km — before the championships conclude Tuesday with the pursuits.

– Courtesy USSA News Bureau

U.S. Cross Country Championships
Soldier Hollow, Utah – Jan. 7, 2006
(Only U.S. skiers eligible for medals)
Men’s 15 km classic

1. Ivan Babikov, Russia/Subaru Factory Team, 38:45.2
2. Kris Freeman, Andover, N.H./U.S. Ski Team, 39:38.1
3. Chris Cook, Rhinelander, Wis./Team Atomic, 39:56.1
4. James Southam, Anchorage, Alaska/Team Rossignol, 40:03.7
5. Lars Flora, Anchorage, Alaska/Subaru Factory Team, 40:15.3
6. Dave Chamberlain, Bethel, Maine/Team Atomic, 40:47.2
7. Chad Giese, St. Paul, Minn./Subaru Factory Team, 40:48.7
8. Rene Reisshauer, Germany/University of Denver, 40:54.3
9. Erik Flora, Anchorage, Alaska/APU Nordic, 41:10.2
10. Zack Simons, Sun Valley, Idaho/Sun Valley SEF, 41:17.0

Women’s 10 km classic
1. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, Alaska/AU Nordic, 35:16.6
2. Morgan Arritola, Fairfield, Idaho/Sun Valley SEF, 35:40.0
3. Liz Stephen, Montpelier, Vt./Burke Mountain Academy,
4. Kristina Strandberg, Sweden/Subaru Factory Team, 36:00.0
5. Karin Camenisch, Switzerland, Team Rossignol, 36:19.7
6. Abi Larson, Bozeman, MT/Subaru Factory Team, 36:20.4
7. Lindsey Weier, Mahtomedi, Minn.,/Northern Michigan University, 37:14.4
8. Pavla Havlova, Czech Republic/University of alaska Fairbanks, 37:16.2
9. Martina Stursova, Czech Republic/Team Rossignol, 37:17.5
10. Wendy Wagner, Park City, Utah/ 37:38.3

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