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October 31. 2013 9:56PM

Diabetic NH Olympian has health coverage again after Sununu hears of plight, offers job

Concord native Kris Freeman has found many sources of support over the course of a skiing career that's carried him from the hills of New Hampshire to a spot on the U.S. cross country ski team.

Now, as he trains for the Sochi Olympics in 2014, one of his biggest backers is no farther away than the boss' office.

Freeman, a three-time Olympian who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes before the 2002 Winter Olympics, had been receiving insurance subsidized by the U.S. Olympic Committee. According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, earlier this year Freeman lost his insurance when he was cut from the U.S. cross country team; he had been on COBRA insurance ever since.

Freeman, 33, wears a tubeless insulin pump called the OmniPod that adheres to his skin and delivers insulin so he does not have to inject it. In addition to health care costs, Freeman was also suddenly forced to pay for much of his training and travel expenses leading up to next year's Olympics.

All that changed when he received a job offer from Chris Sununu, Waterville Valley ski resort owner and general manager.

"There was no question for us about helping out a local hero like Kris," said Sununu in an interview with First Tracks, an online ski magazine. "We are proud to have him on board to bring so much experience and knowledge to an already top-notch staff. It's no accident that Waterville Valley Resort is now home to both America's greatest cross-country skier in addition to America's greatest freestyle skier, Hannah Kearney. We're looking forward to seeing them both bring medals from Sochi back to New Hampshire this winter."

After being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2000, Kris became a pioneer among diabetic athletes as he continued to race at the highest level while using an insulin pump, which requires constant adjusting to accommodate different climates, altitudes, stresses and Freeman's own fatigue.

"He continues to break new ground for athletes every time he hits the slopes," Sununu said in a statement.

In a statement issued by Waterville Valley Ski Resort, Freeman said, "I began skiing at Waterville Valley when I was four years old. 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."

Freeman excels in long distances, winning a World Championship in the 30 km, and is the reigning national champion in the 50 km, which he has won three straight years.

pfeely@unionleader.com


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