A Fourth Olympics for Skier Kris Freeman

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Kris Freeman during training in St. Ulrich am Pillersee, Austria.
Photograph by Sebastian Stiphout

In February, cross-country skier Kris Freeman, who lives with type 1 diabetes, heads to his fourth Winter Olympics! Freeman was diagnosed with diabetes at age 19, the same year he was asked to join the U.S Ski Team.

It’s a crisp October afternoon in Putney, Vt., and Olympic cross-country skier Kris Freeman has already completed the first of his two daily workouts. He’s staying at the home of ski technician and coach Zach Caldwell, pushing his body to get faster, stronger, better before the winter ski season kicks into gear. This morning, Freeman beat Noah Hoffman, another Olympian, by a minute in a 9-mile roller-ski race. When we’re done talking, he’ll be ready to sweat for 7 or 8 more miles.

And that’s an easy day. Yesterday morning, Freeman spent two hours running up New Hampshire’s Mount Moosilauke, then strapped on roller skis (short skis with Rollerblade-type wheels) for a 24-mile afternoon workout. His usual routine is no less taxing: Freeman’s summer training schedule has him working out practically every day with feats such as 20 (and often more) miles of running over mountains, followed by sprints in a kayak; 60 or more miles of roller skiing; shorter roller-ski jaunts followed by swimming; and 30-mile runs that cross six mountains. That adds up to about 900 hours of aerobic exercise each year.

Freeman’s not a masochist but an athlete with one, globe-sized goal in mind: competing in this month’s 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He was among 14 men and women picked on January 22 for the U.S. cross-country ski team—and one of three four-time Olympians on the squad.

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