Aspen skier reflects on first Olympic Games |

Aspen skier reflects on first Olympic Games

Aspen's Noah Hoffman competes in the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
Photo courtesy Nathan Bilow/Crested Butte |

I just returned to the World Cup circuit from my first Olympic Games, where I competed in cross country skiing.

I am the luckiest guy in the world.

I grew up in one of the most beautiful places on earth, at the base of Smuggler Mountain, with exceptional (and ridiculous) opportunities like the Outdoor Education Program in the Aspen School District and a chairlift from the school campus to Aspen Highlands — just to name two of an endless list of opportunities for kids who grow up in Aspen.

I have parents (Mike and Sharon Hoffman) who encourage me to excel and support me in anything I choose to do, and I have a sister (Maggie Hoffman) who sets a very high standard for me to live up to.

I was the beneficiary of incredible luck when John Callahan moved to Aspen when I was in ninth grade to be the nordic program director at the Aspen Valley Ski Club.

John is an Olympian — 1992 in Albertville.

He was (and still is) the perfect person to direct my newly found (when I was 14) motivation to work hard and excel in endurance sports.

I have a second coach, Zach Caldwell — both John and Zach volunteer their time to help me pursue my dreams — whose unique approach has helped me overcome some of the biggest obstacles to reaching my goals.

And, last but certainly not least, I have numerous friends, acquaintances and strangers who support me (emotionally and financially) beyond anything I deserve.

The only thing I know how to do with the endless opportunity and encouragement is to be grateful and do my best.

This post was supposed to be a “recap of my Olympic experience,” but I’ve been feeling guilty about my charmed life.

The Olympics, from my experience in the Endurance Village in the mountains above Sochi, were like summer camp. Even the weather made it seem that way.

As athletes, we didn’t have a care in the world.

We arrived on a charter jet, were met by smiling volunteers, were seamlessly whisked to our village, had access to a great 24-hour dining hall, could walk to the stadium, which had challenging and fun race trails, and had our every need catered to by the organizers, the U.S. Olympic Committee and the U.S. Ski Team staff.

After listing all that, maybe it wasn’t like any summer camp I’ve ever been to.

I got every “start right” I wanted, racing four times throughout the Olympic Games.

My goal going in was to earn a top-10 result, and I didn’t even come close.

My top result was 26th place in the 50-kilometer race.

I had bright spots, but my athletic takeaway is that I still have a long way to go to reach the top of this sport.

However, I’ve made big strides over the past four seasons, and my coaches and I believe I can be a medal contender four years from now (and before that on the World Cup).

I don’t want to do this sport forever. I do it (and I’ve said this for a long time and still believe it) because I want to be the best in the world. I want to win an Olympic gold medal in South Korea, and I want to win an FIS World Cup Globe — awarded to the best skier in the world for an entire season.

As long as I believe those goals are still attainable, I’ll continue to do everything I can to achieve them. The Olympics left me excited for the journey ahead.

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