C.F.K's Interview with Kris:
Q. You've been skiing since you could walk. At what point did you know that the sport was going to be the primary focus of your life? What led you to that point?
A. I realized that skiing was going to be the focal point of my life when I was 15 and won my first Junior National Championship. I wanted to be a great ski racer because my family has always loved the sport and that naturally rubbed off on me.
Q. What can you tell us about the sport of cross-country skiing that might not meet the eye? (Most of us just know it's different boots and bindings and no chair lift!)
A. Cross-country skiing is a sport with no breaks and no stops. Using lightweight equipment, skiers climb hills and traverse flats as fast as their lungs and legs will carry them. Then they go straight down the hills on the same lightweight equipment. I have descended hills at close to 50 miles per hour on skis that are less than two inches wide and have no edges.
Q. How do you spend a typical day training?
A. I wake up at 7:00 AM and meet my teammates for training at 8:00 AM. Then we train between two and three hours either rollerskiing or running. During the middle hours of the day I rest and recover for the afternoon training session that starts at 5:00 PM. This session is usually an hour and a half in the weight room.
Q. Which competition—and your finish results—has been the most significant for you?
A. My best result was winning the Under-23 World Championships in 2003. I am the only world champion the United States has ever had in XC skiing. I skied away from the rest of the competitors early on in that race and won by over two minutes. It was the most convincing win of my career.
Q. Your recent—and future—successes look to put cross-country skiing on the map in this country. How do you feel about this "responsibility"?
A. I hope that any success that I have brings more attention to the sport. The image of
XC skiing is of middle-aged people walking through the woods on old wooden skis. The reality of the sport is far from that. XC skiing is a fast-moving, exciting sport that is recognized as being very impressive, difficult, and challenging by most of the world. If
Americans could watch and try out the sport I know they would fall in love with it.
Q. How do you spend your time when you are not skiing?
A. I spend as much time as I can with my girlfriend and my other friends. I am training and racing out of the country for more than six months a year so I use my time well when I am home.
Q. What are your upcoming competitions?
A. I will be racing the entire World Cup series as well as the World Championships. There are about 20 World Cup races in a season. The first is held in November and
the last race is in March. There are 6 world championship races held in February. They are in Oberstdorf, Germany, this year.
Q. You've already made it known that you expect to compete in the next two winter Olympics. What do you envision for yourself beyond 2010?
A. I will continue to race for a few more seasons and then go back to complete my degree in English.
Q. Why did you decide to put college on hold to devote yourself fully to skiing?
A. I chose to put college on hold because it was impeding my growth as a ski racer. College skiing was at too low of a level to challenge me. I chose to leave school and join the U.S. Ski Team because I want to be the fastest skier in the world.
Q. What is your "yearly" training schedule?
A. May to July, I train in New Hampshire. I log about 80 hours of training per month. Most of the training is done at a slower pace. In August, I train on snow in New Zealand. I log close to 100 hours during this month. September and October, I train in Park City, Utah. I train at a high intensity for 60 hours per month. November through March, I race the World Cup schedule all over Europe and Scandinavia. In April, I take two weeks off from training to recover from the difficult World Cup circuit.
Q. How do you manage your diabetes during training and competition? Is one handled differently than the other?
A. On a typical training day I know how much and what type of food to eat before I work out. I usually eat yogurt, granola, and oatmeal. I will test my blood sugar level shortly before starting my workout. Once I begin my workout I generally consume about 45 grams of carbohydrate per hour.
On a race day I eat the same breakfast. However, it is even more important that my blood sugar is under perfect control in a race because I can do little to correct
it once I start. I will test my blood sugar repeatedly on race mornings, sometimes up to 10 times. If small adjustments are needed, I will eat carbs or take insulin appropriately. In longer races my coaches will hand me a water bottle full of energy drink at the tops of hills right before I descend. That way I can drink while going down the hill without losing time and keep my blood sugar stable. This is also done by the rest of the racers in long events.
Q. It's clear that having diabetes has not hindered your abilities as a world-class skier. What has made that possible?
A. I am very disciplined about my diet, my insulin therapy, and my glucose testing regimen. Since being diagnosed, I have never had a hemoglobin A1C test above 5.8. It is usually around 5.2. I have to keep my blood sugar under strict control to compete at a world-class level. I only eat food that I need to fuel my body.
Q. If you were to visit a child just diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, what would you say?
A. I would tell him or her to learn as much as possible about the disease and the treatments available. Educating yourself is the key to success with diabetes.
Kris talked to us for the Winter 2005 issue of CFK magazine.