Olympic 15k

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Today was my second Olympic race, the 15 kilometer individual start classic. I skied well and executed my process goals. I didn’t get the result I was hoping for, but I’m confident and really looking forward to the 50 kilometer skate race at the end of the Olympics. More on today’s race later.

I got out-of-competition selected for anti-doping again last night. It was my third time getting tested at the Olympics, once in competition and twice out of competition. Luckily our wonderful team doc Larry Gaul is here to accompany me and make the process easy.

Larry Gaul at Night in Sochi Endurance Olympic Village

Larry took this picture of me next to the no pictures sign.

Noah Hoffman at Anti-Doping Olympic Village

I happened to catch fellow Aspenite Jeremy Abbott doing his Olympic short program figure skating routine last night. Tonight Jeremy did the free skate.

Jeremy Abbott Skating on TV in Sochi Oklympics

Here are my teammates Bryan Gregg (left) and Erik Bjornsen walking back from dinner.

Bryan Gregg and Erik Bjornsen Walking Back from Dinner Olympic Village

Our team meeting last night coincided with the medals ceremony for men’s slopestyle in which the U.S. swept. Watching was a pretty motivating way to kick off the meeting.

U.S. Flag Getting Raised on T.V. at Olympic Medals Ceremony

Sweeping the podium is unreal.

American Sweep of Slopestyle Olympic Race

Our coaches are high tech at the Olympics. They had the race slideshow hooked up on the T.V.

Team Meeting Slideshow on T.V.

The course for today’s race was a 5 kilometer red loop then a 5 kilometer blue loop then another 5 kilometer red loop. It was a cool course, but it meant we (as athletes) had to make multiple directional decisions while racing. That’s not easy to do. Head coach Chris Grover was very clear about the directions in the meeting last night.

Directional Choices in Olympic 15k on TV

It didn’t freeze last night. Snow was still melting off the roof when I headed to breakfast this morning.

Dripping Snow in Olympic Village in Morning

Here is a notification from the organizing committee about Valentine’s Day activities.

Valentine's Day Activities from Olympic Organizing Committee

It was another beautiful sunny day. Here’s a panoramic shot of the village from the dining hall balcony.

Panoramic Shot of Sochi Olympic Endurance Village

I went to check out the village pool this morning.

Outdoor Pool in Sochi Olympic Endurance Village

The outdoor and indoor pools connect so you can swim from one to the other.

Indoor to Outdoor Pool Connection at Sochi Olympic Venue

There were also these small outdoor pools. I felt each; they were lukewarm, cool and lukewarm. I don’t know why you would want to sit in them.

Outdoor Small Pools in Sochi Olympic Endurance Village

I then had to go check out the indoor facilities.

Indoor Pool in Sochi Olympic Endurance Village

Did I mention we’re basically living in a country club?

Country Club-like Pool in Sochi Olympic Endurance Village

It looked like a pretty nice place to relax.

Relaxation Area in Sochi Olympic Village Pool

There was an indoor hot tub.

Indoor Hot Tub at Sochi Olympic Indoor Pool Area

And a plethora of saunas.

Plethora of Saunas in Sochi Olympic Endurance Village

There was ice outside the sauna area which I assume is used to cool yourself down.

Ice Outside Sochi Olympic Sauna Area

Outside the pool area was a full service beauty salon.

Sochi Olympic Village Beauty Salon

Thanks to the beautiful weather everyone was in a good mood again today. Here are Chris Grover (left) and our head wax technician Peter Johansson:

Chris Grover and Peter Johansson at Sochi Olympic Trails

Here’s a look at the decision point on the course. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s not hard to take a wrong turn while racing. I managed to do it correctly today.

Olympic 15 kilometer Classic Decision Point

The camera men were enjoying the nice weather.

Relaxing Cameraman at Sochi Olympics

I skied the blue loop for my warm-up because I had yet to classic ski it. It was empty down there. I assume nobody wanted to ski it because the climb back to the stadium is so huge.

Empty Blue Loop at Sochi Olympics

The Olympic bibs have pockets in them for GPS devices. It is up to the organizers to choose which athletes will carry the devices, and if you get chosen you have to accept it. I have been given one in both races. I don’t mind because they are small and light and I forget about it as soon as I start.

Noah Hoffman Olympic Bib GPS Device

Here is my teammate Kris Freeman right before his start.

Kris Freeman Before Olympic 15 kilometer classic Race

Here is Erik Bjornsen (bib 12) in line to start.

Erik Bjornsen Starting Olympic 15 kilometer Classic Race

Here is Canadian Graeme Killick heading to the start:

Graham Killick Heading to 15 kilometer classic Start Line Olympics

Here are our helpers in the start pen (from left to right) physical therapist Ana Jeronimus, massage therapist Stephanie Caverhill and USSA Nordic Team Manager Joey Caterinichio:

Ana Jeronimus, Stephanie Caverhill and Joey Caterinichio in Olympic Start Pen

I skied my race today exactly how I planned. I started very easily. In fact, at the first time check at 2.2 kilometers I was in 71st place. I knew I had three of the best skiers in the field starting right behind me. (Norwegian Eldar Roenning started 30 seconds behind me and finished in 12th place, Sweden’s Johan Olsson started one minute behind me and finished in second place and Switzerland’s Dario Cologna started a minute and a half behind me and won the race.) Eldar caught me at 2.5 kilometers and was a perfect ride. I stayed right behind him without too much trouble for the rest of the 5 kilometer red lap. When we headed down the long decent to start the blue loop I was right behind him. He glided away from me on the downhill. I tried getting in a lower tuck, but I couldn’t keep up with him even though I was in his draft. It was clear my skis were too slow. As I said in the Tour de Ski, having the right skis is my responsibility. I make the final decision on which pair of skis I race on. In one downhill Eldar put 50 meters on me. When Johan and Dario came past me I was able to stay with them on the uphill sections but lost contact on the downhills. Overall my energy stayed good for the entire race, and I’m very pleased with my execution. Here’s a picture from Margo Christiansen of me following Dario:

Noah Hoffman Following Dario Cologna in Olympic 15k

And here’s a picture of me skiing by the Olympic rings from my friend Tom Troutner:

Noah Hoffman Skiing by Olympic rings in 15km Race

I’m sick of making excuses. Today slow skis, Saturday slick skis, a crash, a broken pole and a bad transition, in Toblach slick skis and ugly double poling, in Poland belligerent racing, etc… Maybe I’m just not in good shape or not cut out to be at this level? However, I’m making the excuses because I BELIEVE I am in good shape. Dario was incredible today. He won by thirty seconds, and yet I was able to ski with him for most of the big uphill. I’m not that far away. I CAN have a GREAT 50k at the end of the games if I continue to take care of the things I can control. I’m so glad I have one more opportunity.

After the race I cooled down with the Canadian man. They were as disappointed with their races as I was with mine. Here’s Devon Kershaw:

Devon Kershaw Cooling Down from Olympic 15k in Sochi, Russia

And Ivan Babikov:

Ivan Babikov Cooling Down from Olympic 50k in Sochi, Russia

When I was walking back from the race I saw Canadians Chandra Crawford and¬†Amanda Ammar doing arts and crafts at the Organizing Committee’s Valentine’s Day Fair. It made me smile.

Amanda Ammar and Chandra Crawford doing Arts and Crafts in Sochi Olympic Village for Valentine's Day

Tomorrow at 2 p.m. Sochi Time (11 a.m. in central Europe, 5 a.m. on the east coast of the U.S. and 3 a.m. Rocky Mountain time) is the women’s 4 by 5 kilometer relay. Our team of Sadie Bjornsen, Kikkan Randall, Liz Stephen an Jessie Diggins is a legitimate medal hopeful. It is our best remaining chance to get a medal at these Games. I highly recommend you watch it. If you’re in the U.S. you can watch it live on the NBC Sports Network or at noon eastern (2 p.m. mountain) on NBC.