Aspen’s Hamilton to retire after long World Cup ski career, three Olympics, six worlds |

Aspen’s Hamilton to retire after long World Cup ski career, three Olympics, six worlds

Aspen’s Simi Hamilton competes in the 2021 world championships in Germany. The longtime U.S. ski team member plans to retire after this season. Photo courtesy of U.S. Ski & Snowboard.

After competing in his sixth world championship this past week in Germany, Aspen’s Simi Hamilton has decided it’s about time to head home.

This time for good.

The three-time Olympic cross-country skier confirmed Wednesday he plans to retire following this weekend’s World Cup races in Engadin, Switzerland, which will close out the competition season.

“These races coming up this weekend in Switzerland will be my last as a World Cup skier,” Hamilton wrote in an email to The Aspen Times. “There are a lot more words to say about that, and so many people and supporters I want to thank, but for right now I’ll just say that I know I am making the right decision and I cannot be more appreciative of the opportunities I’ve been given and the relationships I’ve established over the last 11 years.”

Hamilton, 33, grew up with the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club and went to Aspen High School before training with Stratton Mountain School as a professional. Aspen very much remains home for Hamilton, although his wife, fellow U.S. ski team racer Sophie Caldwell Hamilton, has her roots back in Vermont.

After competing in the past three Olympics (2010, 2014, 2018), Hamilton toyed with the idea of sticking it out for a fourth run in 2022, but the pull to step aside ultimately won out. This year’s world championship in Oberstdorf was essentially his last big hurrah, and like most of the season was more of a ceremonial goodbye than any legitimate attempt at making a podium.

Aspen’s Simi Hamilton, left, messes around with teammate Gus Schumacher during the 2021 world championships in Germany. Photos courtesy of U.S. Ski & Snowboard.

He raced three times at worlds, finishing 14th on Feb. 28 in a team sprint, 31st on March 3 in a 15-kilometer freestyle, and eighth on March 5 as part of a 40k relay team. He raced alongside Alaska’s Gus Schumacher, who at 20 years old looks to be the future of men’s cross-country skiing in the U.S., somewhat taking the torch from Hamilton, who has long shined as a sprinter.

“World championships were hard this year. I went in with the lofty, but very achievable, goal of winning a medal in the team sprint but unfortunately a crash and an ensuing missed tag in our semifinal knocked us out,” Hamilton said. “But this year has been about much more than just results; it’s been about being the strongest leader I can be for the incoming class of young boys on our team, and I think in that regard worlds was a huge success because I was able to teach them a lot of things about championship events that I’ve learned over my career.”

Hamilton is ranked 14th in the season-long World Cup sprint standings entering the final races, which is top among American men with Kevin Bolger only nine points back. Hamilton is 49th in the overall standings, one spot ahead of Bolger, while Schumacher leads the U.S. men in 31st place.

Simi Hamilton

According to his FIS page, Hamilton enters the final weekend of his racing career with 144 World Cup starts and four podiums, with one official World Cup win, a 2013 sprint in Switzerland. His first World Cup start was at a February 2010 race in Canada, barely a week before his first Olympic start at the 2010 Winter Games at Whistler Olympic Park in Canada.

“I am so glad I decided to ski one more year after a 19/20 season plagued by injury and illness,” Hamilton said. “It was never about the results this year, rather it was about being part of an incredible team that is reshaping its identity with so many new young skiers and enjoying life on the World Cup with all of my teammates and the friends I’ve made from other countries over the years.”

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