Nordic Notes with Noah: From Idaho to Korea, it’s time for the Olympics | AspenTimes.com

Nordic Notes with Noah: From Idaho to Korea, it’s time for the Olympics

Noah Hoffman
Special to The Aspen Times

KETCHUM, Idaho — Last week, I received the long-awaited voicemail from cross country head coach Chris Grover informing me that I would be named to the 2018 U.S. Olympic team.

I was ecstatic.

However, my excitement was tempered because I knew some of my best friends and training partners were receiving a very different kind of call. After years of hard work and a dream of going to the Olympics, they were hearing they had not quite made the cut. For all of my joy, they were feeling equal and opposite disappointment. I feel for them, and I will miss them in Korea.

Looking ahead, Thursday I leave from Hailey, Idaho, spend the night in San Francisco and then depart for Seoul. With the long flight and 16 hours of time change, I won't land until Saturday afternoon. I will go through Olympic processing on Sunday before taking the bus to the Olympic Village in Pyeongchang. After the Opening Ceremonies on Feb. 9, my first competition will be the 30K skiathlon on Sunday, Feb. 11, at 3:15 p.m. (11:15 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10 in Colorado).

In the four years since the Sochi Games, I have gone through a roller coaster of setbacks and challenges including two surgeries on my ankle, a competition season full of illness and fatigue due to over-training, and a tedious "posture project" to realign my spine and hips. After all of it, I feel tested and tough. I am no longer putting pressure on myself or carrying expectations. I feel as though I am playing with house money; I have nothing to lose.

After several great weeks of training here in Sun Valley, I am in full rest mode now. I have only two more hard training sessions before it's time to race. To make sure my energy is topped off and my legs are fully recovered when the starting gun goes off, I will also be spending a lot of time in my bed over the next 10 days.

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Besides the racing, I am excited to meet other top-level athletes in the Olympic Village and to hopefully watch some other competitions. I especially hope to watch some of my fellow Aspenites compete. It is an honor to represent the Roaring Fork Valley along with Simi Hamilton, Wiley Maple, Alice McKennis, Alex Ferreira and Torin Yater-Wallace. Sochi was one of the best experiences of my life, and I am sure Pyeongchang will be no different.

I plan to share my Olympic experience online. I will post my full race schedule along with photos and stories from the Athlete's Village, the Alpensia Cross-Country Centre and everywhere in between. You can follow along at noahhoffman.com.

Editor's note: Nordic Notes is a weekly column written by Aspen-raised cross-country skiers Simi Hamilton and Noah Hoffman as they compete on the World Cup circuit ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.