Sunday, January 5, 2003 - Latest News
Freeman, Wagner Beat Snowstorm to Take US Titles

RUMFORD, ME (Jan. 4) – Ignoring a continuing snowstorm, Olympian Kris Freeman (Andover, NH) was nearly two minutes ahead of older brother Justin (Andover) to win the men's 30-km classic title Saturday as the Chevy Truck U.S. Cross Country Championships got underway. Earlier, Wendy Wagner (Park City, UT), another 2002 Olympian, won the women's 15-km championship by more than a minute.

The championships, hosted by the Chisholm Ski Club at Black Mountain for the third time in a decade, have attracted a record field, marking the first time more than 400 racers registered. They will be the final element in completing the World Championships Team as well as the World Juniors and U-23 Championships squad.

The storm, which arrived Friday night and continued for almost 24 hours, covered a 5-km loop that was made up almost entirely of machine-made snow. Organizers said the new cover would allow Chisholm Ski Club volunteers to open new loops for the remaining races, which run until Jan. 12.

In collecting his first national championship, the 22-year-old Freeman was timed in 1:19.07.9 while Justin Freeman, 26, who went to college in Maine (Bates), took the silver medal in 1:20.57.2. Bronze medalist was Lars Flora (Anchorage, AK), whose time was 1:21.06.1 as the storm left nearly a foot of snow on the region.

"It was pretty soft and pretty slow snow," the victorious Freeman said, "but I went out hard and wanted to put some distance between me and the rest of the field. I wanted to get a lead right away…

"It was a tough course, definitely a World Championships caliber course."

The former University of Vermont racer from the Andover Outing Club, who has lived in Park City, UT, for more than two years because of training opportunities, was pleased to return to New England and do well. His parents and his girlfriend were among the spectators cheering for him. Freeman is a diabetic who credits daily insulin injections from a Lilly Humalog pen with enabling him to train and compete at the highest levels.

"I knew I was capable of winning. My Fischers were great, the wax team worked great and I did what I could," Freeman said.

He took the silver medal in the 50-km classic in another storm that concluded the 2002 Chevy Truck championships outside Bozeman, MT. He came to Rumford as the men's leader in the Nor Am Cup series and said he was anxious to see how his strong start, and some good results at the championships will translate to international racing in World Cups, the U-23 championships next month near Bormio, Italy, and the World Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy.

Wagner, the women's Nor Am leader as U.S. skiers stayed home to train before heading to Europe later this month, picked up the second U.S. title of her career, capturing the three-lap race at snowy Black Mountain in 48:51.9 with University of Alaska Fairbanks student Erin Whitmer (Fairbanks) runnerup in 50:01.4.

"I felt good. The course held up pretty well, for all the snow. I didn't think the conditions were bad," Wagner said. "I felt healthy and, really, pretty relaxed."

She grinned and added, "It's about time" she won her second title. Her first gold medal was in the 5-km classic race at the 1998 championships.

The race marked the return of Nina Kemppel (Anchorage, AK), the alltime U.S. titleholder (19) and the only U.S. women named to four Olympic cross country squads. She retired from World Cup racing last spring but will compete in several non-Cup races this season; Kemppel, who was 18th, said she had problems with waxing and wasn't as ready to race as she would have liked. U.S. Ski Team member Justin Wadsworth (Bend, OR) has been sidelined by a cold and hasn't come to Rumford as he tries to shake it at home.

After an off-day Sunday, racing resumes Monday at Black Mountain with freestyle races, the women's 5-km and men's 10-km.

Hosted by the Chisholm Ski Club
Rumford, ME – Jan. 4
Men's 30-km Classic Technique
1. Kris Freeman, Andover, NH, 1:19.07.9
2. Justin Freeman, Andover, NH, 1:20.57.2
3. Lars Flora, Anchorage, AK, 1:21.06.1
4. Andrew Johnson, Greensboro, VT, 1:21.22.2
5. Patrick Weaver, Bend, OR, 1:22.28.7
6. Chris Cook, Rhinelander, WI., 1:22.35.9
7. Carl Swenson, Boulder, CO, 1:23.20.3
8. Zach Violett, Auburn, CA, 1:23.58.3
9. Tobias Schwoerer, Anchorage, AK, 1:24.02.4
10. Chad Giese, St. Paul, MN, 1:24.23.4
Women's 15-km CL
1. Wendy Wagner, Park City, UT, 48:51.9
2. Erin Whitmer, Fairbanks, AK, 50:01.4
3. Martina Stursova, Czech Republic, 50:22.5
4. Kristina Strandberg, Sweden, 50:31.2
5. Erin Quinn-Hurst, Anchorage, AK, 50:31.5
6. Lindsey Weier, Mahtomedi, MN, 50:32.1
7. Aelin Peterson, Fairbanks, AK, 50:41.6
8. Katja Ivanova, Russia, 50:42.4
9. Alison Crocker, Hanover, NH, 50:53.4
10. Melissa Oram, Taberg, NY, 51:28.2

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