Cross country skier glides to Turin
Justin Freeman proves the dreams you have as a child can actually come true.
He has wanted to be part of the U.S. Olympic Team since second-grade.
"I’ve been thinking about the Olympics since I was 7 or 8," Freeman said.
Now, at the age of 29, Freeman will live that dream and compete with the cross country team at the upcoming 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.
Freeman shared his victory with the first-and second-graders at McPolin Elementary School, where he talked about training and answered questions. To welcome him the students hung a banner in the front entry way that read, "Congrats Justin."
He first tried out for the Olympics in 1998, where Freeman competed for a spot to represent the U.S. in Nagano, Japan. He came in 11th at the trials. His next attempt at making the team was in 2002 where he place 12th. For him the third times a charm.
Kris Freeman, Justin’s older brother, is also on the team. Justin said his mom is proud to have two boys in the Olympics.
Skiing has always been a part of Freeman’s life. As a child in New Hampshire he would ski on trails in his backyard.
Going to the Olympics gives him the opportunity to represent the U.S. in several different races. He explained many of them to the students, saying the longest is about two hours and the shortest is 35 minutes. In some of them he travels up to 30 mph, with 15 mph being the average speed for a race.
Cross country Olympic events include a 15k classic, a team sprint and a sprint relay. Freeman will compete in many of them.
His chance at Olympic gold would not be possible without his rigorous training schedule. One curious student asked if training is hard.
"It’s very hard. It’s very rewarding, but you have to train every single day," he said.
Another student wanted to know where people watched the races from. After explaining that spectators must stand at the side of the course he told them about a 50k race in Oslo, Norway.
"Spectators set up tents and sleep in the snow. They’ll have barbeques too," he told them.
People eagerly watch finish lines to see who will cross first. One student asked what it was like to win.
"It’s a lot of fun to win a race, to cross the finish line knowing you’re the fastest person there that day," he said.
As they had their photo taken, students wished him victory at the upcoming games and shouted, "Justin gold!"
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Buses, trains and gondolas doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but they make up the transit alternatives for the mountain transportation system the Central Wasatch Commission is trying to create, mostly in the Cottonwood canyons.