Spring Skiing

Summer has come early to the Caucasus mountains. It was 50 degrees Farenheit today (+10 Celcius). The running path around the lake was getting soft yesterday afternoon; it’s not too fun to run on.

Soft Groomed Running Track at Sochi Olympic Endurance Village

I did laundry for the first time yesterday. There are laundry kiosks all around the village.

Laundry Kiosk Around Sochi Olympic Village

All I had to do was drop it off and the volunteers manning the station did everything for me. I am blown away that they offer this service. It is wonderful.

Sochi Olympic Laundry Kiosk

I had to go off the mountain again yesterday evening for another interview. I had to leave before my laundry was done, so my teammate Holly Brooks picked it up. It must not have been completely dry because it was all hanging up when I went to the women’s chalet to pick it up this morning. Thanks Holly!

Noah Hoffman's Laundry Hanging in Women's Olympic Chalet

Both yesterday and today were gorgeous. These mountains are stunning.

Caucasus Mountains from Sochi Olympic Endurance Village

I was checking out the security cameras that line every section of fence around the village.

Security Camera Around Sochi Olympic Endurance Village

For some reason they are doing an incredible amount of snow removal from the village.

Snow Removal from Sochi Olympic Village

It doesn’t seem necessary since it hasn’t snowed since we got here. These two guys were shoveling by hand in front of our place today. I gave them U.S. Ski Team pins.

Olympic Village Shovelers Sochi

I’m getting good at the trek down and up the mountain. Yesterday was my third evening in a row.

Gondola from Sochi Olympic Endurance Village in Sunset

Yesterday’s interview was with Russia Today TV. They wanted to talk to me about my experience in Sochi and, like the other Russian interviews I’ve done, they found me through this blog. Yesterday’s interview was really easy because the interviewer lived in the U.S. for a couple years and spoke perfect English. She also had clearly read some of this blog and asked informed questions. We were able to schedule the interview in my coach Zach Caldwell’s hotel, and I didn’t mind going down because it was such a nice evening.

Sunset from Laura Gondola in Sochi

The commute was easy and empty because there wasn’t a cross country or a biathlon race yesterday.

Empty Path in Kraysna Polyana, Russia

Here’s a view of the full moon and one of the towers of the spectator cable-way. (It wasn’t running since there were not events.)

Full Moon and Cable-Way Station Above Kraysna, Polyana, Russia

On the walk from the gondola to Zach’s hotel I go by the very American Baskin-Robbins.

Baskin-Robbins At Sochi Olympics

They love neon lights around here. Many of the buildings are incredible at night.

Neon Lights at Laura Venue Cross Country

I also like the vending machines around here. Maybe I’m oblivious, but I don’t feel like sandwiches out of a vending machine are the norm in the States.

Vending Machine with Sandwich Option in Sochi, Russia

Erik Bjornsen and I made use of the foosball table in the game room here in the village, continuing our rivalry from our pre-Olympic camp in Seiser Alm. We played best-two-out-of-three and I managed to force a third game but really got crushed. Here’s Erik:

Erik Bjornsen Playing Foosball in Sochi Olympic Endurance Village

I spent most of the day watching events. I watched the American men sweep the slopestyle podium. That was really cool to see. If I had any coordination at all I’d be a slopestyle skier instead of a cross country skier. I’m so impressed when I watch those guys throw down.

I then got to watch my teammates in the 10 kilometer individual start classic race. It was a brutal race in really soft and slow conditions. Sadie Bjornsen skied really well, finishing in 18th place. Full results are available here.

After the women’s race I went up for my pre-race ski. The warm weather seemed to have everyone in a lounging type of mood. So many people were hanging outside.

Hanging Outside at Sochi Olympic Waxing Cabins

On the snow many people were in short sleeve shirts. Here is head Norwegian wax technician Knut Nystad on camera:

Knut Nystad Getting Filmed at Sochi Olympics

The trails were busy.

Busy Soft Trails at Sochi Olympic Cross Country Venue

Here are two Norwegian technicians doing a glide test to see which skis are faster. (Most likely the skis are matched and they’re testing wax or structure in the base.)

Norwegian Wax Technicians Doing Glide Out at Sochi Olympics

Here is the best British skier Andrew Musgrave preparing for tomorrow’s race:

Andrew Musgrave in Sochi Olympics Russia

The conditions were so soft that they were a little hard to stand up in. We are expecting the same for our race tomorrow.

Super Soft Skiing Conditions in Sochi, Russia Olympics

The grooming so far this week has been great (with the exception of the ladies’ pursuit day when they set the far right track in the downhill (wide) setting and it was very hard to ski in.) They are using big alpine-style machines to groom.

Big Piston Bullies at Sochi Olympics

I did a little bit of pre-race intensity and worked on technique with Zach. Here I am doing some hard skiing.

Noah Hoffman Pre-Race Intensity in Sochi, Russia Olympics

Believe it or not, but Zach actually introduced some new technique cues today, the day before an Olympic race. It seems like odd timing, but why not if it helps me ski better? I have been struggling with classic this year so something isn’t working. My goal tomorrow is to ski as well as possible and take a step forward in my career. It’s very unlikely that I’m going to medal.

Noah Hoffman Working on Classic Technique in Sochi, Russia

Zach took both of the above pictures. He said I had to give him full credit and royalties in perpetuity. In told him no problem, he can have 100% of my profit from this post.

There were a lot of Nordic combined skiers on our trails today. Their course is down in the valley, and it’s so hot up here that I can’t imagine how warm it must be on their trails. Maybe their trails weren’t even open for skiing today to preserve the snow. Here is a French Nordic combined skier. You can tell because he’s wearing a red bib. (See the Nordic combined icon in the upper right.)

Nordic Combined Athlete on Olympic Cross Country Trails

Here is Swedish cross country skier Calle Halfvarsson:

Calle Halfvarsson Skiing in Sochi, Russia

And Finnish skier Sami Jauhojärvi:

Sami Jauhojärvi Classic Skiing in Sochi Olympic Venue

Here is Swiss sprinter Laurien van der Graaff:

Laurien van der Graaff Training on Sochi Olympic Trails

The forerunners have been doing a lot of training outside of their duties around the races. They must all be athletes who have more races later in the season. They all got custom Sochi 2014 race suits that I think are pretty cool.

Forerunner Training at Sochi Olympic Venue

On my way down from skiing people were flooding into the biathlon venue for tonight’s race.

Crowds Heading to Olympic Biathlon Race

I really like the banner outside the Slovenian housing.

Slovenian Olympic Housing Banner

Tomorrow is my second Olympic race, the individual start (time trial) 15 kilometer classic race. I am very focused on pacing the race well and skiing as well as I know how. I’ll be focusing on my technique cues. I am not concerned with results. A top-20 finish would be my best classic race of the season.

Unfortunately in the U.S. NBC is not airing the race. If you’re really dedicated you can watch it live on the NBC Sports Network at 5 a.m. Eastern Time. Full results will be available here.