TOBLACH, Italy – Kris Freeman (USA) has been struggling all season to find his top form, a level that has put him in contention for the World Cup podium in the past. He has repeatedly commented that he has been missing his top-gear, and that has been apparent on the result sheet.
The Tour de Ski has been more of the same—some solid results, mixed into poor ones, but nothing spectacular.
While the sample size is small, the 35km pursuit from Cortina to Toblach marked a significant improvement for the veteran, and could mark a turning point.
Freeman skied his strongest race of the season, posting the tenth fastest time on the day while moving up from 42nd to 29th.
“I started racing and finished racing, and I raced in the middle, too,” Freeman told FasterSkier.
After inexplicable subpar performances, Freeman did not enter the pursuit with much confidence, especially coming off a sprint on Wednesday that he described as “pathetic.”
He caught a ride with Robin Duvillard (FRA) in the pursuit, who started just behind at bib 44, and said he was “pretty much being a leech out there.”
He finished in the middle of a large pack, losing out in a photo finish to Sergei Dolidovich (BLR), leaving him under three seconds out of 25th, and within striking distance of 21st.
Last year he skied an excellent final climb, but struggled in the 20k mass start. If he can put together a strong performance tomorrow, he could be in good position for the grind up the Alpe Cermis on Sunday.
Freeman, however, is not taking anything for granted, despite clearly being pleased with his performance.
“At this point, I have no idea what to expect out of my body at any time,” he said.
He is now looking to complete the Tour and get some rest, which he thinks will help.
His coach, Zach Caldwell, told FasterSkier, “I was just about ready to send him home yesterday [Wednesday],” but with the top-10 performance in the pursuit, that is off the table.