Justin Freeman Blog Banner

Archive for January, 2012

At least Kris had a decent race…

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Kris raced in Austrian Nationals on Saturday and skied to a comfortable win. I broke my five-year streak of finishing on the podium of the Craftsbury Marathon without a win. But not in the way I was planning. And our dad has a lousy race as well.

For my father, the bad luck started just before the race began. His new skis, which seemed to be running really well, caught on a bit of powder, causing him to trip. As he recovered, he discovered that his binding was broken. With only one pair of skis waxed, and only a couple minutes until it was time to start, he was understandably panicked. He managed to borrow Eli Enman’s warm-up skis, but had to start at the very back of the first wave and spent the whole first lap fighting traffic. Then he had one good lap, and then the wax wore off of his skis (because why put binder on your warm-up skis). So things got ugly from there.

For me, the start was fine. I had fast skis with pretty good kick. I spent some time at the front during the first lap, but I also sat around being somewhat patient at other times. During the second lap, two 25 km skiers from Dartmouth were fighting for the win and I slipped in behind them, breaking the 50 km pack so that only Eli Enman, Nils Koons, and myself were left at the front. Then, as we were coming out of a feed, I started to cut in front of Eli, then went back to my original track, then moved right again when he told me to go ahead. In the back and forth I lost momentum and maybe a bit of balance and I ended up planting a pole right under his ski. The pole shaft remained intact but the basket came off.

I got a new pole rather quickly, and it was even the right size. But it had an unfamiliar strap that was adjusted much too loose for my hand. I spent a couple of kilometers trying not to lose more time as I worked to properly adjust the strap. By the time I was skiing, I was probably 25 seconds down. Over the next six kilometers, I slowly gained on Eli and Nils, coming within perhaps 5 seconds shortly before the last big climb of the lap. When Nils attacked on that hill, I had absolutely nothing to respond with. Over the final kilometer of lap three, I lost the 20 seconds I had painstakingly made up, and I continued to hemorrhage time at the same rate, losing 5 minutes to Nils over the final 12 kilometers.

Eli told my father when he thanked Eli for the skis that he spent the last lap skiing hard on the assumption that I must be right behind him (he was, after all, losing time to Nils despite the fact that Nils had not sped up). But it turns out that Eli actually put four minutes on me.

I spent half of the last lap skiing alone, unable to motivate to go very fast. Then I was passed. I tried to pick it up, but I crashed on an easy corner and two more skiers went by me. All I could think about as I watched them was that they really didn’t look like they were skiing well or fast. And yet not only was I too physically tired to give chase, I also suffered perhaps the worst mental collapse of my career: I just let them go. I think a part of me feared for what would happen if I really gave it 100% and couldn’t even fight back into fifth place.

11th in an Eastern Cup

Monday, January 16th, 2012

I race in Farmington yesterday and had a somewhat disappointing result. To help Johnnyklister with their next compilation I will offer the excuses that I did a poor job of picking skis and that I was up too late the night before creating math lessons on my iPad. But neither of those things cost me a lot of seconds. Hopefully I have better races ahead of me this season.

Oh–I have to share my brother’s e-mail to me (with apologies to those who finished ahead of me):
“You only got beat by two people who [stink]. Good job”

Solid Race, No Magic

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Two years ago, for reasons I still can’t explain, I finished 6th in the 30 km classic race at U.S. Nationals. And as much as I knew there was absolute no reason to expect to duplicate that today, I wanted to. That led me to go out too hard, try to fight for position in the pack, and thus waste the energy that I needed to hold on to the pack as reality set in. Not that it mattered a lot. I might have held on to the pack for four laps–maybe five–if I had skied smarter, but I might not have. And I might have skied a touch faster if my skis had been great rather than average today (you know you have great wax techs when average skis are an off day for them–thanks again to my wax team!)
But I didn’t have the fitness today for a top-20, even if the stars had aligned. And while I know that I shouldn’t have the fitness for a top-20, what with an accumulated training deficit of 2000 hours over the last six years (plus another 2000 hour sleep deficit since becoming a father).
Still, I was hoping for magic. I was hoping that my 46th time racing for a national championship would be the charm. Instead, I got a good race for a mostly retired ski racer with a job and two kids. And that will have to be good enough.

Better Than Kris

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Okay, not really. But I did finish 28th in the National Championship 15 km skate, while he crossed the line in 29th in his stage of the Tour de Ski (with the 10th best split time–a good indicator for his season).
I actually went out way too fast, with the 7th fastest split on the first lap. After that, I steadily slipped back through the field. But 28th is very good for me given where I am in my life.
Oh–a huge shout out to Ben Husaby, both for giving me some incredible race boards and for talking me through the process of picking which skis to race on.

Kikkan!

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

So, I was thinking maybe I should write a blog post about my family ski trip to Mont Ste Anne (which was awesome) or the mixed feelings of realizing that the next two days may mark the end of my 16-year streak of racing in a National Championship every January (which would probably actually be self-indulgent and boring).
So let me just point out quickly that today I watched live as Kikkan was barely out-sprinted by Marit Bjoergen, who may well be the most dominant skier ever. And I was not just disappointed by a little surprised that Kikkan couldn’t pull out the win. Could anyone have imagined seven years ago (the year when there was not U.S. women’s ski team at all) that 2nd place in a World Cup would be good but not great?