Aspen Nordic skier Noah Hoffman re-energized for World Cup season | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Nordic skier Noah Hoffman re-energized for World Cup season

For all the extra work Noah Hoffman put in this summer, the Aspen-raised Nordic skier is hoping for an evolutionary winter season.

"Last year, I was disappointed. I had kind of a stagnant year where I was right around the level I had been the last several years," Hoffman said Thursday in an interview with The Aspen Times. "I wanted to do something that was different enough that I could expect different results, and I've done that. My training has been so different and so much more than years past."

Hoffman, 27, has long been a member of the U.S. Ski Team. He's competed in the past three World Championships as well as the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. However, he's rarely been able to break the top-20 barrier in the World Cup standings and this frustration led to him contemplating an early retirement from the sport.

Instead, Hoffman has returned with a new vigor, a 40 percent increase in his off-season training leading to renewed energy and expectations.

"The biggest thing is just the volume of aerobic training. Last year I trained 680 hours, and this year I will train 1,020. So it is a huge increase," Hoffman said. "I'm coming off a really encouraging summer and I can't wait to test it when it really counts in the World Cup and World Championships."

Hoffman was in Aspen Thursday to kickoff the season with a Nordic fundraiser at the Limelight Lodge. The annual celebration was meant to honor former and current Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club athletes and coaches, as well as raise money for Hoffman. In the past, other Aspen Nordic athletes, such as "A team" member Simi Hamilton, have also attended. However, Hamilton couldn't make it this year, leaving Hoffman as the center of attention Thursday night.

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Hoffman, a "B team" athlete, is in a much different financial situation than his Aspen teammate. Only "A team" skiers are fully funded, meaning Hoffman is responsible for paying his own way during the season.

That's why fundraisers like the one in Aspen on Thursday are crucial to him being able to chase his dreams.

"Every time I come here I'm just absolutely blown away by how many people show up and how generous they are. I could not be doing this without this support," Hoffman said. "You don't want to overstate it, but it's everything. It costs in the range of $20,000 a year to compete on the World Cup for an unfunded athlete like myself."

Hoffman will leave Saturday from Aspen for Finland, which will host the first Nordic World Cup races of the season Nov. 26-27. This will be his first chance to see if his new training regiment will pay off.

It's an important winter for the skiers, with the return of the World Championships — held in late February in Lahti, Finland — and it being the final full season before the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. The Nordic skiers will get a chance to experience the Olympic course in PyeongChang in early February.

Hoffman said he plans to compete in 28 World Cup events this season.

"I've trained the load that we outlined and I'm healthy and I'm fit. I'm really excited to go test it out," Hoffman said. "To me, the connection to the community is what has kept me in the sport. I still have Olympic dreams of Olympic success and medals and it's all because of this."

acolbert@aspentimes.com