Community send-off Sunday for Nordic stars | AspenTimes.com

Community send-off Sunday for Nordic stars

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

Aspen cross country skier Noah Hoffman competes in the 50K race at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Celebrate the Nordic stars.

A community send-off is scheduled for Sunday in Aspen to honor current and alumni standout athletes of the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club.

The reception will run 4-6 p.m. Sunday at the Limelight Hotel.

The community is invited to recognize the top international Nordic skiers with AVSC ties who will be competing across the globe this season.

Free beer and pizza will be served.

The event will recognize AVSC alumni Noah Hoffman and Michael Ward along with current cross country ski racer Hailey Swirbul.

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The occasion is sponsored in part by Rocky Mountain Nordic Angel, the charitable arm of Rocky Mountain Nordic.

Rocky Mountain Nordic is the regional division of the U.S. Skiing Association.

Community events like the one in Aspen on Sunday are designed to serve as fundraisers for the athletes to support their competition in the season ahead.

According to officials with the AVSC, a silent auction will include more than 100 items of U.S. Ski Team apparel, as well as travel packages and other varied items.

The athletes will be interviewed on stage and will take questions from the audience.

In addition, organizers are hopeful that Aspen native Simi Hamilton, a member of the U.S. cross country A Team, which is fully funded, also will be in attendance at the Limelight on Sunday afternoon.

Hoffman, 26, skied with the Aspen Valley Ski Club through middle school and high school and has finished as one of the top three distance skiers in the U.S. since 2011.

A current member of the U.S. B Team, Hoffman was the premier U.S. long distance skier at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Last year, he suffered a broken leg at an early season event in Finland, then fought his way back to ski for the U.S. just two months later at the world championships in Falun, Sweden.

Hoffman's season will begin again in northern Scandinavia in late November.

Aspen native Michael Ward, 22, learned to race cross country and ski jump at an early age with AVSC. Ward is currently a member of the U.S. Nordic Combined Team and is one of the top six American athletes in this discipline.

Recently, Ward competed at the Summer Grand Prix in Austria and Germany against the best in the world.

He finished as the third and fourth American in those events.

Ward's World Cup season could begin as early as Nov. 28 in Kuopio, Finland, and will continue through the final World Cup races in late February.

Hailey Swirbul, a senior at Basalt High School, has been an AVSC athlete for the past seven years.

Swirbul stepped up last year when she was named the youngest U.S. female athlete on the World Junior Championships team last February.

Swirbul, racing in Almaty, Kazakhstan, finished as the second and third U.S. woman in the individual races.

She also anchored the four-skier team that finished eighth in the relays.

dstrode@aspentimes.com

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