Athlete spotlight: Noah Hoffman
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
I just arrived in Lahti, Finland, from Erzurum, Turkey, where I competed in my fifth and final U23 and Junior World Nordic Ski Championships.
I have had the full array of results and experiences at these championships. However, this is the first year I have come away from the race series feeling that I belong with the best skiers in the world for my age. On Thursday, I became the fourth American ever to podium at U23s when I finished second in the 15-kilometer classic. Way more than the result or the step forward that it represented in my ski career, I was totally inspired by the support and encouragement I received from every facet of my life. It reminded me why I race.
I am now excited to achieve more success. This weekend in Finland and next weekend in Oslo, Norway, are my last two World Cups of the year. They are both mass-start races, which I have struggled with on the circuit. I have never managed to stay with the lead pack to the finish line, or even until the last 5 kilometers. However, in the second race (the 30-kilometer mass-start pursuit) at the U23 championships on Saturday, I managed to stay with the lead pack and finish in eighth place, two seconds behind the winner, against skiers that have been very competitive on the World Cup. I cannot wait for an opportunity to do the same at the highest level of the sport.
Moreover, I am excited for the coming seasons. I’ve never felt that my goal of being the best distance nordic skier in the world is as achievable as I do now. Next year, I’m looking forward to racing in the Tour de Ski – seven World Cup races in nine days that are scored like the Tour de France cycling race. Also next year, Val di Fiemme, Italy, will host the World Championships. The venue plays directly into my strengths that I developed growing up in Aspen, with extremely long, hard hills and high altitude. I believe I can consistently be in the top 20 in the world next season.
With the Olympics in Sochi, Russia (another high-altitude venue), only two years away, the World Championships in Falun, Sweden, in 2015 and the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, I truly believe I can reach the highest level of my sport.
I was reminded this week of the incredible opportunity, encouragement and support I have in my life. There is no way I could dream of achieving my goals without it.
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User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
The 2020-21 Nordic combined season was supposed to be historic. This winter was going to be the first ever with women’s Nordic combined World Cup events, the first scheduled for Dec. 3-6 in Lillehammer, Norway.