Tough Race

Today was a baffling race for me. The start was delayed by an hour so the firm icy fast snow was just starting to soften as the men started. It was a 15 kilometer individual start classic race. We did three laps of the 5 kilometer loop that was basically up for the first half then down for the second half.

The concerns that I had yesterday about losing all of my wax on the first downhill were for naught because of the softer conditions.

I started at what I thought was a good pace, but Alaska Pacific University’s Reese Hanneman caught me after starting 15 seconds behind me by the top of the hill, less than 2 kilometers into the race. He passed me and I realized that he’d decided to race on skate skis, double poling the whole course. I was impressed. I had heard some guys talk about double poling it because of the fast conditions and gradual terrain, but I thought they all were crazy. Yet here was Reese blowing me out of the water UP the hill on skate skis. I tried to keep up with Reese down the long hill, but he was stronger than me and his skis, without the drag of kick wax, were much faster than mine. He put over ten seconds on me.

When we started the second lap the conditions were much slower than they had been on the first lap, and Reese was starting to suffer without wax. I caught him again and passed him. I also caught a group including Olympian Brian Gregg, who was great in the World Cup last week, so I thought I was skiing pretty well. I felt like I was skiing hard with high energy and moving well. I led the group down the hill then dropped them going up the long hill on the last lap. I finished feeling like I’d had a pretty good race.

However, when the results came out, it turns out I’d had one of my worst races in years. I was in 7th place, two minutes behind winner Erik Bjornsen. Kris Freeman finished right behind me. Kris has been one of the best classic skiers in the world; he’s finished fourth at the World Championships on two different occasions in  15 kilometer classic races. Like me, Kris felt that he’d skied very well. He was as confused about his result as I was about mine.

The guys who finished on the podium skied very well. I owe them a huge congratulations. Erik won by a minute over his teammate Lex Treinen. What’s most impressive to me is that Erik was on classic skis and Lex double poled it on skate skis, so it seems to be a toss-up on which one was preferable.

I am very disappointed about my result, but there’s nothing for me to do but move on from today. If today was truly representative of where my fitness is at, then it’s a good thing the season is almost over and I can revamp everything for next year. I have a lot of time to get in shape before next November.

In the ladies’ race, Erik’s sister Sadie Bjornsen had just as good of a day as her brother. She won by over a minute.

Full results are here.

Before my race I snapped a few pictures. Here is Sadie warming up:

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Sun Valley Life

Yesterday afternoon Chris Woods, an assistant Nordic coach for Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, dropped me off at a house that my sister Maggie and her fiancé Nick Blatz are caretaking in Hailey, Idaho, about ten miles from Sun Valley. Generously, the owners of the house, who are vacationing in Hawaii, are letting me and my parents and Emilia and our friend Jess Breda all stay here in addition to Maggie and Nick. It’s a beautiful farmhouse.

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Park City

Several people have asked me what camera I’m using since mine broke a couple of weeks ago. (I haven’t had time to send mine in to warranty.) For a while I was using my phone, but then my teammate Liz Stephen told me she was carrying a camera around Europe that she had gotten from Steve Fuller of Flying Point Road Photography. I think Steve was trying to encourage Liz and all of us to take more pictures to promote ourselves but Liz said she rarely used it, so she passed it off to me to use until I get mine fixed. Amazingly, it happens to be exactly the same camera as my broken one, which I got as a gift last summer.

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Oslo 50k

Yesterday was a disappointing end to a disappointing season. Everyone has been saying to me, with regards to my broken fibula in November, things like, “you couldn’t expect more” and “it’s an accomplishment just to be back on the World Cup”. I appreciate everyone’s support, but my ankle isn’t the problem with my skiing. I did expect more, as did my coaches. We have already begun evaluating the season and talking about some big changes that need to occur for next winter. I still believe I can be the best skier in the world.

My apologies to anyone who tried to follow my live heart rate data during yesterday’s race. Everything worked perfectly for the first 11 minutes until I skied out of cell phone range. Whoops. I didn’t foresee that issue. I’ll try to live-stream my data again in the future during a race that’s a little more urban.

Before the race yesterday morning my teammate Erik Bjornsen and I went for a walk and took the lift up to the top of the Holmenkollen Ski Jump.

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Perfect Day and Live Tracking

I mentioned it yesterday, but I am going to be streaming my heart rate and GPS data from my new Timex IRONMAN ONE GPS+ watch to the internet during tomorrow’s (Saturday’s) Holmenkollen 50k World Cup. While people watch the race, they can follow my heart rate data to see how hard I’m working. The race starts at 9:15 a.m. Eastern Time tomorrow. For more information and to stream the data go to noahhoffman.com/live-tracking/.

The weather here in Oslo is perfect.

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