Madshus Contest and Sliding Rails

My ski, pole and boot sponsor Madshus is running a contest to give away some of my Olympic gear from Sochi 2014. To enter, post a photo of training (either of you training or that you took while training) on Instagram. The pictures can depict anything from max effort to how you recover from your workouts. (I can imagine that if my coach Zach Caldwell were entering the contest on my behalf, he’d probably submit a picture of me sleeping on the couch.) Tag me (@hoffnoah) and Madshus (@madshus1906) in your picture and use the hashtag #trainlikehoff. I’ll pick my favorite pictures and regram them, and the pictures that receive the most likes will win!

Here’s the flyer for the contest:

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Ski Tour Canada and Chasing Emilia

It’s nice to be on vacation! I will take about a month off of training to let my body rest and recover and to ensure that I’m ready for a long training season and a full winter of racing. I need to be well rested because, if all goes according to plan, I will have 29 World Cup starts next season, significantly more than I’ve ever had before. Because there isn’t a World Championships or an Olympics next year, there will be two long tours during the World Cup season. The Tour de Ski, beginning the first day of January, will consist of eight stages, one more than normal. Then, the new Ski Tour Canada will be the last event of the season; it will be another eight day tour beginning on the first day of March. I am very excited about so many race opportunities, and I believe it will be a great season for me.

I want to encourage everybody to put a couple of stages of Ski Tour Canada on their calendars and to come watch the races and support me and my teammates. It is a huge opportunity for us to have World Cup races in North America, and I know that spectators will have a great time. World Cup racing is unlike any other racing that happens on this continent. Here’s a look at the tour:

  • The 1st stage is a skate sprint on Tuesday, March 1st in Gatineau, a suburb of Ottawa but on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River.
  • The 2nd stage is a 22 kilometer mass start classic race on Wednesday, March 2nd in Montreal, two hours from Gatineau.
  • From Montreal we’ll continue east to Québec City. Stage 3 will be another skate sprint on Friday, March 4th.
  • We’ll remain in Québec City for stage 4, a 15 kilometer pursuit start skate race on Saturday, March 5th.
  • At the halfway point of the tour we’ll fly all the way out to Alberta. I heard they are going to charter a direct flight for the athletes. Stages 5, 6 and 8 will all be at the incredible Canmore Nordic Centre in Canmore, Alberta, about an hour and fifteen minutes outside of Calgary. Stage 5 will be a classic sprint on Tuesday, March 8th.
  • Stage 6 will be a skiathlon on Wednesday, March 9th. Generally skiathlons are 30 kilometers long (15km classic+15km skate).
  • For stage 7 we’ll drive an hour northwest from Canmore to Lake Louise for a 20 kilometer classic race on Friday, March 11th.
  • The final day of the tour, stage 8, will be a 15 kilometer pursuit start skate race back in Canmore on Saturday, March 12th.

I hope you can make it to one or more of the races! The full World Cup calendar for next year (and all the way through the 2018-19 season) is here.

I’ve been enjoying my first couple days of vacation. Yesterday Emilia and I chilled in Denver. We rode bikes around the park near Emilia’s parents’ house.

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Sun Valley 50k, Photo Shoots and Skiing

It has been an exceptionally busy four days. I apologize for not having posted a blog, but I haven’t had time to even open the computer.

Thursday was the National Championship 50 kilometer race. It was the final race of the Super Tour Finals series in Sun Valley, Idaho. The men’s race began at 9 a.m. and the conditions were rock solid ice. The long gradual uphill on the course was exceptionally difficult to ski. It was so slick that I couldn’t hold an edge when skating. Some athletes chose to double pole much of the uphill because it was less frustrating than slipping every stride.

The pace started relatively fast. Sometimes the pace in domestic mass start races can be excruciatingly slow because nobody wants to lead, but on Thursday athletes like Alaska Pacific University’s (APU’s) Lex Treinen, University of Colorado’s (CU’s) Rune Oedegaard and Ski and Snowboard Club Vail’s (SSCV’s) Tad Elliott were willing to take turns at the front and keep the pace high. I was not feeling great at times and was worried that I might get dropped from the large group.

Because of the icy fast conditions, the long downhill on the course was exceptionally sketchy, especially on the second lap after everybody had skied over it once. There was a sweeping left corner near the top with snow that made it impossible to hold an edge. We were all sliding towards the edge of the trail, completely out of control and barely keeping from going into the woods. Further down the trail there was a fast corner followed by a tree well that had encroached onto the trail. We had to pick up one ski to avoid falling in. I heard one athlete actually chose a line that went around the tree. There was at least one serious crash; luckily I wasn’t involved.

I began to feel better near the end of the race. The conditions started to soften a touch as the sun reached parts of the course.

With eight kilometers to go, Canadian Ivan Babikov made a move on the iciest part of the uphill. He was very smooth and skiing much better than the rest of us on the ice. He produced a pace that nobody could match. He skied away from us and won the race by 52 seconds.

The rest of us stayed together until the finish. I tried to accelerate the last time up the long hill, but I didn’t have enough left to drop the group. It came down to a sprint finish between four athletes for second place. Sprint finishes have been tough for me, but I produced my best one ever on Thursday. My energy was still very good, and I used that to my advantage on the long gradual uphill. CU’s Oedegaard beat me, but I finished in third place, second in our group, ahead of great skiers like APU’s Erik Bjornsen.

Because I was the first American finisher (Babikov is Canadian and Oedegaard is Norwegian), I won the title of U.S. National Champion. It was my third National Title.

Full men’s results are here.

I am happy with the way I skied in the race on difficult snow. It was not easy conditions for me, and I believe I put together the best race I possibly could. It was a positive way to end a disappointing season.

The women’s National Championship 30 kilometer race started an hour after we finished and they had conditions that were polar opposite from what we experienced. By the time they started the ice had turned to slush and the conditions were exceptionally slow. It was hot. Here his Burke Mountain Academy’s Liz Stephen taking a feed:

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