First U.S. Skier in World Cup Red Group
Legendary Kris Freeman, 37, is hanging up the skis following an amazing 18-year career and a legacy that includes five Olympic Games, 17 U.S. cross-country-ski National titles, multiple top-10 results on the World Cup, a fourth at the FIS Nordic Worlds and gold in the 30km at the inaugural U23 Nordic World Championships in 2003.
Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 19, Freeman, a New Hampshire native, spent his career inspiring others while educating the rest of the world on the possibilities for those suffering with this disease.
At an early age, he was already looking to follow in the footsteps of his brother, former U.S. Olympian Justin Freeman, and showed unbelievable potential in his initial few seasons of cross-country racing. He won his first National Championship title in the men’s 30km Classic in 2000 and raced on the U.S. Ski Team (USST) from 2002 to 2013.
It was prior to the 2002 Olympics, while undergoing regular blood work for the USST, that he tested positive for Type 1 diabetes. When the team doctor told him that it would not be possible for him to compete, he took it upon himself to find new doctors, learn everything he could about the disease and continued to race at the highest international level.
Freeman understood that it would take an enormous amount of work to even compete at that level and so collaborated with Zack Caldwell from Caldwell Sport, whom he’d met during his formative ski years while attending the University of Vermont. The duo painstakingly regulated and monitored Freeman’s blood-sugar levels and developed specific training programs and a regimen to help him realize his dreams.
In such a high-stress environment, Freeman would often times require multiple Omnipods (an insulin-delivery system) to regulate his insulin levels, and he held himself to an unbelievably strict diet prior to competition.
He was able to manage and overcome the challenges and was the dominant U.S. distance skier at the senior level for 16 years, playing a pivotal role in the success of the USST. He achieved in his career what others could only dream of, being the first American to qualify for the “Red Group,” and so becoming one of the top 30 athletes on the World Cup circuit.
His marquee race was the 15km Classic, and he finished just off the podium in fourth at the 2003 Worlds in Val di Fiemme, Italy and again in 2009 at Liberec, Czech Republic, which remains one of his most memorable results, as Team USA took home multiple podiums in Nordic-combined, ski jumping and cross-country skiing at those World Championships.
To this day, Freeman’s goal is to overturn misinformation on Type 1 diabetes, and he continually works with multiple diabetes’ foundations to raise awareness and funding for the disease. While stepping away from the Professional cross-country-ski scene, he now takes on the role of father with his wife, Amber, to perhaps foster the next generation of Freemans in the sport.
A Type 1 diabetic, Kris Freeman earned 17 cross-country-ski National titles and was the dominant U.S. distance skier at the senior level for 16 years.