Hoffman third in Aspen SuperTour stop
ASPEN On a course he’s skied too many times to count, 18-year-old local Noah Hoffman looked right at home Thursday against some of world’s best cross country skiers.Hoffman, who graduated from Aspen High School last May after winning five individual state titles in two sports, finished third in the opening contest of this weekend’s nordic festival, a USSA SuperTour 10-kilometer classic.
A field of 113 male and female skiers raced amid blowing, falling snow on the 5-kilometer loop adjacent to the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club.Andre Golovko, a former Olympian for Kazakhstan who now races professionally for the elite Factory Team, won the men’s race in 29 minutes, 9.8 seconds. Zack Violett, a four-time NCAA All-American, took second, 16.5 seconds off Golovko’s pace. Hoffman – still an amateur – finished in 29:33.5. It was the best result of the season in five SuperTour events for Hoffman, an AVSC graduate who opted to defer from his freshman year of college to train at the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation in Idaho.Hoffman’s first lap splits were right on pace with Golovko, which the local said was encouraging. His second lap didn’t go nearly as well.”I didn’t feel super snappy,” said Hoffman, who finished eighth in the 10K freestyle at last month’s U.S. Cross Country Championships in Houghton, Mich. “I really struggled my second lap. Maybe I went out a little hard. … It was probably just a bad job of pacing. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I wish I was in the kind of shape to keep up with Golovko on the second lap.”Times were slow across the board Thursday because of the fresh snow, which made a course known for its variety that much more trying.
Swede Kristina Strandberg, Golovko’s Factory Team teammate and winner of the last two Owl Creek Chases, cruised to victory in the women’s 5K race, in 16:49.5.Fellow pros Nicole De Yong (17:37.1) and Martina Stursova (17:40.4) rounded out the podium.Including Hoffman, AVSC athletes were well represented in both men’s and women’s races and the J2 (14-15) boys race.Aspen High junior Lindsey Wilkinson had the best local result among the women, finishing 20th among the field of 48 in 19:49.6.Behind her were teammates Natalie Obermeyer (26th, 20:12.6), Brittany Marrs (27th, 20:13.0), Katie Bird (34th, 22.22.9), Tayler Quist (39th, 23:00.8), Annalise Grueter (41st, 23:13.5) and Kelsey Tofany (42nd, 24:14.3).
Hoffman led a field of local skiers in the men’s field of 43 that included Bryce Gordon (19th, 34.22.1), Ben Armstrong (21st, 34:49.6) and Whit Parker (32nd, 36:43.8). Aspen High junior Scott Lacy, the strongest junior skier on the boys teams this winter, is currently in Estonia competing in the Scandinavian Cup.Hoffman noted it felt good to be back on his old course with some of his old high school teammates, although he didn’t feel he had a home advantage.”It’s sweet to race that high school loop with a field like this,” he said. “It’s a really fun course, and it skis really well. We’ve got a little of everything out there. Some long hills, some short-and-steep hills and some long downhills.”For complete results from Thursday’s race, go to email@example.com.
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Vail and Beaver Creek resorts Senior Communications Manager John Plack said the company agrees with the state’s assessment that the ski industry must be out-front in its approach to ensure a safe and successful season in Colorado.