First Race

Yesterday was my teammate Sadie Bjornsen’s birthday. The girls got her 24 different small presents for her 24th. The guys got her one joint present. Rosie Brennan, who’s on the World Cup through December as the winner of last year’s Super Tour (professional race series in the U.S.), made her a delicious chocolate cake.

Rosie Brennan's Chocolate Cake for Sadie Bjornsen

We had fun celebrating.

Sadie Bjornsen's Birthday Cake Candles

And I think Sadie had a good birthday.

Sadie Bjornsen with her 24th Birthday Cake

Because we raced so late this afternoon, I went for a jog this morning to stay loose. I got some incredible views of the mountains around here.

Mountains Near Beitostolen, Norway

It was a gorgeous day.

Sun Over Beitostolen from high neighborhood

This alpine area is just down the valley:

Alpine Area Near Beitostølen, Norway

Here’s a view of Beitostølen:

Beitostølen from up High

In order to get the best view for pictures, I walked onto the roof of a cabin that is clearly not currently inhabited.

Cabin with Grass on Roof for Pictures

I could see a lot from my perch.

Noah Hoffman Perched on Roof top

I spent the entire morning hanging out at the hotel. I didn’t have to be at the venue until 12:45 and my start time was 2:03. There was not a break between the women’s race and the men’s race and there are a ton of racers here. The course is closed while the races are going on, so I didn’t get to ski on the course at all before my start. I did all of my warming up on a short warm-up track. It was packed!

Crowded Beitostølen Warm-up Course

You had to stay right, but people were passing constantly. There were nearly many head-on collisions.

Crazy Traffic in Beitostølen Warmup Course

I started long enough after my teammate Simi Hamilton that I was able to snap a couple pictures of him racing while I was warming up.

Simi Hamilton Racing in Beitostølen 15km Classic

Here he is dropping down one of the hills on the course.

Simi Hamilton Descending Hill in Beitostølen 15km Classic Race

And rounding a corner at the bottom of the course:

Simi Hamilton Rounding a Corner in Beitostølen 15km Classic Race

Petter Northug, the winner of the overall World Cup last year, started a couple minutes in front of me and right in front of my teammate Andy Newell. Petter didn’t ski well. He ended up in 61st place. This is pretty typical for Northug. I fully expect him to win next weekend in Kuusamo. Here he is (bib 143) before his start with Newell to his right.

Petter Northug Starting Beitostølen 15km Classic Race

As I mentioned yesterday, the Norwegians make these races into a big deal with lots of advertisers and money involved. There was a car parked in the middle of the stadium.

Car Parked in Beitostølen Stadium

I noticed about a minute before my start that one of my bindings was missing a bumper. I looked around for a coach or technician, but I was one of the last starters and there wasn’t anybody around. There was nothing to do but race without it. It is pretty uncommon for a bumper to fall out, and I didn’t know how it would feel to ski without one. It didn’t end up being that bad. The ski just feels a little heavy and it slaps around a bit. Here’s a picture of the missing bumper I took after the race:

Noah Hoffman Missing a Bumper

I’m glad it happened this week instead of next week when it counts!

The race itself was OK. I felt pretty good, and I executed my plan well. I did not get the result I was hoping for. I have felt really good in training, and I’m surprised that I was so slow today. I finished in 41st place, a little over two minutes behind winner Martin Johnsrud Sundby. My coach Zach Caldwell was not surprised by the result. His prediction for where I’d finish was very close to reality. He pointed out that I’ve never been very good for the first race in Europe. It’s also, as he called it, a hyper-competitive Norwegian field with many athletes trying to peak this week to qualify for the World Cup. He expects me to be better tomorrow and much better next week. I hope so, but all I can do is focus on continuing to execute well. I’m not too worried about today’s result because there is so much more racing to come.

Here is video from our coaches of today’s race. I was wearing bib 156.

Because of the late start, the sun was setting as Newell and I walked home from the venue.

Race Day Sunset in Beitostølen

When we got back, the tape delayed women’s race was playing on T.V. It was fun to watch our teammates ski since we hadn’t gotten to see them in person.

Watching Beitostølen Races on TV

I’m racing again tomorrow in a 15 kilometer individual start skate race. The start time for tomorrow’s race is even later than today. The FIRST man goes off at 1 in the afternoon. I may be racing in the dark. Results will be available here.

5 thoughts on “First Race

  1. Hi Noah,
    Great job dealing with the adversity of the missing bumper. I heard that Bill Koch used to sometimes classic ski without bumpers. Still – not something you were used it.

    Great job keeping it together – and putting in a good race.


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