Kris Freeman is a retired professional American cross-country skier. He was a member of the U.S. Ski Team, along with his older brother Justin Freeman. He competed in the Winter Olympics for the first time in 2002. In March 2003, at the World Championships held in Val di Fiemme, Italy, Freeman placed fourth in the 15 Kilometer Classic. At the U-23 World Championships, he placed 1st in the 30 km classic race, skiing away from the field. He was again picked for the U.S. Olympic Team. After several seasons in which, by his own admission, his results did not live up to expectations and the diagnosis of severe compartment syndrome, Freeman duplicated his career best by placing fourth in the 15 km individual-start classic race at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2009 in Liberec, Czech Republic. Freeman represented the United States at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
If you are too heavy for your skate skis, you will have a hard time balancing on them because the camber flattens out and it becomes an unstable ski. This makes it difficult to use good technique, and also can create a breaking, halting feel on some snow. Therefore, it is important to have skis that are matched properly to your weight and the snow conditions. Transcript: "So if you are too heavy for your skate skis, more than just having for glad you're going to notice that you have actually a hard time balancing on them because when you flatten out the camber for when you're too heavy, it becomes an unstable ski. So it almost becomes irrelevant as to whether or not the ski is actually fast because it becomes very difficult to ski on and use good technique because the skis are just so hard to balance on it. That's because you flattened out the camber by weighing too much for this game. Also, if you flatten out that camber, the skis have specific spots that they're meant to be run on based on their camber and if the entire ski is on the ground, you can almost get like a breaking, halting feel on some snow. So it's very important to have skis that are matched properly. True, your weight and the snow condition."
Staying focused while racing is something that I have never had difficulty with. I use positive cues to remind myself how to ski better and visualize the course beforehand so I can plan and anticipate each turn. This helps me stay in the moment and not be distracted by my thoughts. Transcript: "So, I was asked how I stay focused while I'm in a race. And honestly, staying focused in a race has never been an issue for me. I am so focused on winning or doing my best performance that I can that I naturally weed out any distractions. But I can control what I think about. And one of the most important things for me, particularly in a ski race, is cues, reminding myself how to ski better with a single word. Like, if I am struggling to find kick, I can just think hips. Hips stay high. Hips stay high. Ankles stay relaxed. Stay light on your feet. Stay on the balls of your feet. And then they all come together to a more relaxed stride. The other thing I do is I visualize the course beforehand so that I know what's coming around the corner. Not only am I focused in the moment, but I'm also anticipating the next corner so that I can plan for the best line. I know when I want to switch tracks. I know how many pushes I can take around a corner without breaking a skating rule in a classic race. Things like that. So, just having all the details lined up in my head beforehand can keep you from having any distractions come into your mind because it's already full of information."
I was a cross-country skier before I was a runner in high school. Balancing my goals for running and skiing was difficult since I needed to be at peak performance in different months of the year. This is why I only competed for one year in college as a runner before going full-time into skiing. Transcript: "I was a pretty good cross-country runner in high school, but I've also always been a cross-country skier. I started skiing before I became a cross-country runner, and the question I'm responding to was what was it like being a high school runner before transitioning to cross-country skiing. So I guess it's actually the opposite. I did my first ski race when I was five years old. I think I did my first running race when I was eight, so you would say that I was actually a skier first. But as far as my high school running career, it was a little hard to balance coming to a real peak in November for running because it was very important to me with then trying to ski fast as well. And it worked a lot better when my main goals in skiing happened in March, like junior national championships when I was 15, 16. Once I needed to be at the top of my game in January for the world junior championships or the actual world championships, it was a very different phenomenon. And six, seven hour weeks running just didn't fit in anymore, which is why I only competed for one year in college as a runner before going full-time skiing all the time."
Overtraining in endurance sports is possible, but it usually means that you aren't recovering properly or fueling your workouts correctly. It's best to look into other ways to maximize your training before assuming you are overtrained; however, if you can't reprioritize things in your life, you may have to consider training less or you may have hit your physiological max. Transcript: "So I was asked, is there such a thing as overtraining when it comes to endurance sports? And absolutely there is. But there are some caveats too. To really overtrain takes a fair amount of discipline because your body is an incredibly adaptable thing. And before you think that you're overtrained, you need to look at, well, have I been recovering properly? Have I been getting enough sleep? Have I been fueling my workouts the way they should be? Am I getting enough? Am I hydrated? Am I getting enough carbohydrates, protein, fats to carry the training load? So before thinking, oh, I must be overtrained, perhaps you're just under-recovered and not prioritizing your workouts the way you should be. Now there is also definitely a maximal load that your body can handle. And if you cross over that, you will start to deteriorate. I have crossed over that line myself. But before considering that you're overtrained, really look at all the other things you can do to maximize your training before you just assume that it's because you've trained too much. And if you can't reprioritize things in your life, then you might have to consider training less or perhaps you did actually hit your physiological max."
My approach to cross country skiing technique is to look for efficiencies and relaxation in my movements, as well as incorporating new innovations. I always aim to sustain the movements while looking for relaxation. Transcript: "My question is what is your approach to cross-country skiing technique? And the thing about cross-country skiing, it is a constantly evolving thing. The best skiers in the world are always coming up with new innovations on how to get around the track faster. And those are also, you can look at them as adaptations to the way modern courses are graded, the formats that are used, and sprinting, which was introduced back in the late 90s, early 2000s, really changed the sport with more power coming into play. And the sport has been kind of changing at a rapid pace ever since. But not addressing just the technique, what I always did when I was trying to implement new ideas was always find relaxation in the movements. You can ski with picture-perfect technique, but if you are tense throughout the movements, you're simply not going to be able to sustain it. So I would always look for efficiency in my movements, as well as relaxation and sustainability. And then I would look to the new innovations that are there and try to incorporate them, and once again, look for the relaxation and the sustainability of movement."
I took fourth place in the 15K classic at both the 2003 and 2009 World Championships despite not expecting to be in the top 10 in 2003. While I was disappointed to not make the podium in 2009, it was still an exciting accomplishment to have skied that fast and competed with the best in the world. Later on, I was frustrated to learn that my competitor, Andrews Berry Blue, had been doping during his career. Transcript: "I was asked how it was to have my career best races at the 2003 and 2009 World Championships. I took fourth place in the 15k Classic at both of those World Championships. Definitely in 2003 I wasn't expecting to be even in the top ten in that race, so that was really exciting and thrilling to realize that I had skied that fast and I could compete with the best in the world. 2009 I had greater expectations and I was disappointed to have not made the podium in that race because I executed that race as well as I possibly could have and I was still one second off the podium. It was also very frustrating to learn later that Andrés Verpilleu was doped for the majority of his career, which is part of the sport. But to come up with some great performances at the World Championships twice, six years apart, it certainly felt good and it was one of the best races I ever put together in both instances. So, it was satisfying."