Aspen skiers named to U.S. cross country team | AspenTimes.com

Aspen skiers named to U.S. cross country team

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

Noah Hoffman of Aspen races in a World Cup race in Switzerland last year. He'll represent the U.S. this weekend in Finland.

Two Aspen skiers will wear red, white and blue again this winter season.

Simi Hamilton and Noah Hoffman, two Aspen cross country skiers who competed in the Sochi Winter Olympics last year, were named to the U.S. Ski Team for the 2014-15 competitive season.

The Nordic racers will open their season this weekend in Ruka, Finland.

All skiers named to the A and B teams are previous members of Olympic and World Championship teams.

The team is led by Kikkan Randall of Anchorage, Alaska, and Jessie Diggins of Afton, Minnesota, both winners at last year's World Championships.

The FIS Nordic World Ski Championships for 2015 will be held Feb. 17-March 1 in Falun, Sweden.

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Randall will defend the World Cup sprint title she has won the last three seasons.

Hamilton, born and raised in Aspen, moved up to the A team this year after a strong 2014 campaign. He won a stage of the Tour de Ski and made the U.S. Olympic Team.

Sophie Caldwell of Peru, Vermont, also moved up to the A team.

She finished sixth in the Olympic freestyle sprint, the top U.S. women's cross country result in Olympic history.

Hoffman, who also made the U.S. Olympic Team last year, was named to the U.S. B team to start the season. He was joined by Erik Bjornsen of Winthrop, Washington, and the Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Center.

Also on the squad is Ida Sargent of Orleans, Vermont.

The U.S. Ski Team spent much of October training in Park City at the Center of Excellence and Soldier Hollow before an on-snow stint at the Canmore Olympic Park near Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Earlier, the U.S. skiers trained on snow at Mount Bachelor in May and on Alaska's Eagle Glacier in July.

All of the A and B team athletes, including Hamilton and Hoffman, will compete in the seven-stage Tour de Ski in early January. The race is scheduled for Jan. 3-11.

Later this season, the U.S. team will be named for the Nordic World Championships.

"It's great to be back in Europe ready to begin another season," Randall said. "We have a strong contingent of returning members from last season's record-breaking team and spirits are high as we head into the opening World Cup weekend in Ruka."

She said the World Championships in Sweden in February will be a big target for the team, especially in the relays.

"We are approaching the beginning of the season with more hard training than we have in the past, knowing that we may sacrifice performance in some of the early World Cups, with the intent of being sharpest in February for World Championships," said head coach Chris Grover. "This is a strong team with proven performance. Each year we see more depth. Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins showed that two years ago winning the World Championship team sprint. Noah Hoffman and Simi Hamilton each won stage legs last year."

dstrode@aspentimes.com