Special Guest - Kris Freeman
Cross-Country Skier from the United States
Winner of a 2004 LifeScan Prize for Athletic Achievement
"At age 19, I qualified to train with the U.S. Cross-Country Ski Team," says Kris Freeman, who is now 23. "But just three months after beginning, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. My blood glucose level was nearly three times normal!"
Although his endocrinologist told Kris that his days as an elite athlete may be over, the young athlete was not willing to give up. He says, "I believed that with modern treatment, I could not only compete with the best, I could also beat them."
And Kris was right. Just over a year after being diagnosed, he qualified for the U.S. Olympic cross-country ski team and then competed in Salt Lake City. Kris finished 14th – and as the leading American – in the One-Day Pursuit event. He also participated in the Team Relay, helping the U.S. team to finish in fifth place, the best showing ever by a U.S. team in this particular event.
Since Salt Lake City, Kris's career has continued its impressive growth. He has ranked high in numerous international competitions, and he also captured first place in the 30K event at the Under-23 World Championships. Right now, Kris is the only U.S. skier to have won an international cross-country skiing championship of any kind.
When he was diagnosed, Kris was ranked as the 174th cross-country skier in the world. Now, he is ranked as 17th in a sport that has been historically monopolized by Europeans. He is among the so-called "Red Group," the top 30 cross-country skiers in the world. No American before him has joined this elite group.
How has Kris done all this, while managing his diabetes? He explains, "I have carefully monitored my glucose levels. I have studied how different temperatures, altitudes, climates and stresses affect my insulin sensitivity. And I have learned to follow a specific regimen of insulin, as well as a specific diet."
Impressive accomplishments, but the best for Kris may still lie in the future. At 23, he is young when compared to other world-class cross-country skiers. Kris can reasonably look forward not just to the next Winter Games, in 2006, but also to the following Games, in 2010. As he explains, "The optimum age in the sport is said to be 28. I can only get stronger!"
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Last Updated: Wednesday December 20, 2006 13:53:11
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