When three-time Olympian and reigning 50-kilometer national champion Kris Freeman failed to make the cut for automatic funding on this season’s US Ski Team, Waterville Valley stepped up to hire the 33-year-old New Hampshire native as a Nordic racing instructor, allowing Freeman to fund his own training and keep his health-care benefits intact in preparation for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Health insurance is an expensive component of Freeman’s training because he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2000. He competes wearing an insulin pump to control his blood sugar level, and for a typical two-hour race must calibrate it according to the altitude, snow conditions, and his likely pace. The Wall Street Journal called Freeman “a science experiment on skis,” recounting how at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics he collapsed from fatigue while six seconds off the lead in the 30-kilometer championship, downed a sports drink and sugar-rich gel pack, then got back on his skis and finished 45th.
“There was no question for us about helping out a local hero like Kris,” said Waterville Valley chief executive officer Chris Sununu. “We are proud to have him on board to bring so much experience and knowledge to an already top-notch staff.”
The US Ski Team cited a desire to develop younger athletes, bumping Freeman from funded training even though he has consistently ranked near the top in US Ski and Snowboard Association points.
“I began skiing at Waterville Valley when I was 4 years old,” Freeman said. “When I grew up, I moved as close to the mountain as I could because it is still my favorite place in the world to ski. I am grateful to Waterville Valley for running such an awesome facility and for all of their support.”
Pass the deals
One trend that will continue to benefit skiers and riders this winter is dynamic pricing and mix-and-match flexibility with season-pass deals and multiday ticket packages.
Ski NH is selling blocks of discounted lift tickets (www.skinh.com) that begin with a minimum order of six and are transferable and valid every day of the 2013-14 season. Tickets are grouped in tiers of $22, $32, $47, $60, and $70 per ticket depending upon which mountains are selected; buyers can choose tickets from one ski area or purchase a mix. Ski NH is also packaging a $319 college pass (must be a full-time student) with no blackout dates at Bretton Woods, Cranmore, Waterville Valley, and Cannon Mountain.
Two Vermont resorts are extending a college-style price break to everyone ages 18-26. Mount Snow and Stratton are offering a $349 Double Down pass with no blackout dates. There is incentive to buy early, because the rate spikes to $479 after Dec. 15. Included in the deal are two midweek, nonholiday “buddy tickets.”
Mount Snow has a $12 ticket deal Dec. 12 in honor of the “12/12” founding date of the resort. It must be purchased online in advance . . . On Dec. 14, Bretton Woods turns 40 and will celebrate with $40 tickets . . . At Killington, present a season pass from this year or last year from any competing resort, and get a 20 percent discount off the day rate (not valid Thanksgiving weekend) . . . Sunday River has a demo weekend Nov. 30-Dec. 1. The $10 cost to participate can be rolled into a $50 discount on any new ski or snowboard package at Sunday River Sports . . . At Sugarbush, you can buy four unrestricted, transferable 2013-14 tickets for $199 in an online Quad Pack deal that runs through the end of this month . . . Buy tickets to select November-January Boston Bruins weekday games (using the promo code “LOON” via www.bruins.nhl.com) and you’ll be mailed a complimentary lift ticket to Loon Mountain.