Noah Hoffman

FasterSkierDecember 2, 2008

Noah Hoffman was born in Aspen, Colorado in 1989 and began ski racing in 7th grade. Under the coaching of John Callahan during his high school career, Hoffman placed 4th at JOs in the classic race for J2s and began training hard and consistently with the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Olympic Develoment Team soon after.

Hoffman attained 12th place in the 2008 World Juniors 10K classic, 8th in the 2008 US National Championships 10K skate, and 1st in the 2008 Owl Creek Chase Supertour. Hoffman enjoys both difficult courses and courses at high altitude and doesn’t mind straying from his extra-blue Colorado conditions to the rainy, icy, and sparse snow conditions found elsewhere in the U.S.

When Hoffman is not skiing, he enjoys mountain biking, alpine skiing, watching Colorado sports on TV, and reading. Hoffman plans on skiing competitively as long as he enjoys it and then continuing his education.

Birthdate: August 1st, 1989
Hometown: Aspen, Colorado
Current Residence: Sun Valley, Idaho
Ski Club: Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation
Status on U.S. Ski Team: 1st Year, Continental Cup Team
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 155lbs
Best Results: 12th in 10k Classic at 2008 World Junior Champs, 8th in 10k Skate at 2008 US National Champs, Winner of 2008 Owl Creek Chase Supertour
Sponsors: Madshus skis and boots

Full Interview

When did you start ski racing, and what were some highlights of your young skiing career?
I started ski racing in 7th grade but was not very competitive about it. I just liked having fun with my friends and playing in the snow. There were no highlights of my young career; I wasn’t very interested in doing well. When I didn’t make JO’s as a J2, I decided I wanted to get serious about skiing.

Who has been the most influential person for you, whether as a skier or a person?
John Callahan, my coach from Aspen, has been the most influential person for me as a skier. He came to Aspen the same year I decided I wanted to get serious about skiing, and he’s helped me accomplish success. I never had any trouble with motivation, but John showed me what I needed to do to ski fast. As a member of the 1992 US Olympic Team, he knows what it takes to get to the top of US Nordic skiing. He allows me to design my own training, but reviews everything with me and suggests changes. He always explains all of his decisions or suggestions.

Where is your favorite place to ski, where is your favorite place to race, what is your favorite part of the season, what are your favorite ski conditions?
That’s a lot of different questions! Of course I enjoy skiing the trails I grew up on in Aspen. I also generally do well at altitude and on hard courses, so I like high courses with hills. But mostly I like skiing anywhere there has been or will be a big time race. I enjoy skiing at Soldier Hollow and thinking about what it was like in ’02. I’ve had fun this summer and last spring being in Whistler and dreaming about the Callaghan Valley at Games time. Anytime I get to arrive at a venue a couple of days before a race, I really enjoy getting to know a new course thoroughly before race day. As for my favorite part of the season, every year my coaches and I pick out which races we’re going to focus on, and everything we do is geared towards those races. Ski conditions and weather fall under the category of things I can’t control, things I try not to worry about. Everybody has to deal with the same conditions. Growing up in Colorado where it’s almost always extra blue skiing, I enjoy a little change like getting to ski in the rain, on ice, or with hardly any snow.

What drives you to succeed at the highest possible level, and what are your short term and long-term goals as a skier?
The focus of this season will be on World Juniors. This is my last year as a junior and a great opportunity. I’d like to go to World Juniors with a chance to win the 10k and the pursuit. A secondary goal of mine is to make the World Championship team and get to head over to the Czech Republic after World Juniors. My career goals are to keep moving forward each year, ski full time on the World Cup, and be competitive at the World Cup, World Championships, and Olympic Games.

Do you have any consistent training partners?  Do you prefer training alone or with others?
The Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Olympic Development Team has a great group of guys who train together and push each other. Mikey Sinnott is back from Dartmouth College, skiing full time for the Saab Factory Team, and looking forward to another great season. I have the privilege of living with Mikey and his family in the house he grew up in. Colin Rogers is one of the most prominent seniors in the nation and is back in Sun Valley this year. Jimmy Ades and Ben Knowles are also here skiing full time, and Miles Havlick and Willy Neal are taking a post grad year before heading to college. All said it’s a great group of training partners. On the other hand, the Sun Valley team only has practice 3 times per week, which means we get a nice balance of group training and training alone.

What is your favorite on-snow and dryland workout?
My favorite dryland workout is definitely mountain biking. It’s exciting, technically challenging, and can be done in some cool locations. The mountain riding around Sun Valley is some of the best I’ve ever seen. When we get on snow, it’s time to race. The snow season is the race season. So my favorite thing to do on snow is race. Of course I love alpine skiing too, but I didn’t think that counted as a workout.

What do you enjoy doing besides skiing?
When I have the energy, during easier weeks or on off days, I really enjoy doing outdoor activities and other sports. I like to play tennis, soccer, alpine ski, and hike. When I need to chill inside and recover, I love watching sports, reading a good book, playing cards or board games, or working on skiing stuff like designing plans, organizing trips, or planning the race schedule. I’m a huge fan of all Colorado sports teams: the Broncos, Avalanche, Nuggets, and Rockies. I also really enjoy watching golf, tennis, and road biking.

Have you always wanted to be a professional ski racer?
No, while I was growing up I wanted to be a professional soccer player. I loved soccer and had played it since I was very young. Then at the beginning of high school I wanted to be a road runner, or maybe a cyclist, but I kind of followed my talent, and ended up in Nordic skiing. I never had a chance as a soccer player, and I doubt I would have done well nationally running.

If you weren’t ski racing, how would you be employed? Do you have any other means of employment to support your ski career?
I do not have any other employment. This year and in the past, I’ve been supported by my family, but I’ve started working on getting other sources of funding. My dad has been helping me try to secure both benefactors and sponsors. Even though nothing has worked yet, I’ve enjoyed working on this self marketing. It’s been tough for me to put myself out there, but an awesome learning experience; I’m looking forward to more of this work. If I wasn’t ski racing, I’d be in college. I’m not sure what I’d be studying. Physics, Math, and technical theater are all of interest to me, or maybe architecture or broadcasting. I will definitely go back to school someday, and these are areas I’m interested in.

How long do you think you will ski professionally? What do you see yourself doing after you finish your ski career?
I do not know how long I’ll ski race. It depends on how much fun I’m having, how I’m doing, and whether I’m financially supported or not. After skiing I’ll go to school.

How have you risen so quickly through the junior, and now the senior, ranks of American skiers? Was there a specific turning point? Describe your training or other factors that have allowed you such success.
Thank you! One early turning point I can identify to is when I decided I wanted to be a good skier. It was the summer after my freshman year of high school. The summer before I started high school I had gone to boys camp in Hayward, Wisconsin, then decided to play tennis for the high school in the fall instead of running cross-country or playing soccer. Consequently I came into the Nordic season in terrible shape and didn’t make JO’s. I was really disappointed. I signed up to go back to boys camp that summer, for twice as long! But right before I was supposed to leave, something changed. I had just come off a pretty good track season, and I decided I wanted to get good at endurance sports. So I didn’t go to camp (not a cheap decision). I started training instead. I didn’t have a plan, so I just did what I thought I should. I did 7 hour bike rides and 20+ mile runs. That year I was 8th at state in cross running and 4th at JO’s in the classic for J2’s. Since then I’ve just progressed steadily. I’ve gotten a training plan and kept training consistently. I’ve developed a pretty high volume/low intensity type plan that has built off the hours I did that first year.

What was your high school situation like? Did you go to regular school? Are you going to college? How did you make that decision?
I went to Aspen High School, a public school with about 450 kids. I skied for the Aspen Valley Ski Club under John with other top skiers such as Simi Hamilton, Brandon Cooper, and Scott Lacy. The ski club was across the parking lot from the high school and has up to 50k of ski trails available from the back door. There’s also a chairlift for the alpiners that goes up to Aspen Highlands. It’s a pretty incredible setup. I also worked with other outstanding coaches including Ruthie Brown, Toby Morse, Travis Moore, and Austin Weiss. It is a great program that develops kids to ski in college and/or at the highest levels of US skiing. As for college, it was a very tough decision for me to decide to ski race instead of go to school. I know I want to get an education, and I know how important an education is, but I feel like this is my one opportunity to ski race. I don’t feel like I can ski at my best in college. So I’ve made the decision to take it year by year. Every spring I sit down with my parents and John and discuss where I’m at in my skiing and whether I should go to school. So far I’ve held on to my NCAA eligibility, but if I get some good sponsorship offers I will give up my eligibility and will no longer have the option of skiing in college. I will continue to reevaluate every year.  I will go to college someday.

Do you enjoy racing/competing in other sports during the offseason, or did you play other sports as a kid? What are some favorite non-skiing competitions?
Since high school , I haven’t competed much outside of skiing. I have done some running races and road bike races, but this year in particular I’ve cut way back. I take all races very seriously, and I bring a lot to each race in terms of mental preparation and focus. Consequently, races take a lot out of me. I enjoy using the spring, summer, and fall as preparation time. I don’t need to race to stay motivated. I feel that racing seriously in the summer would make it difficult to focus on competing during the winter. If I race in the summer, it’s because there is something to be gained from it physiologically or psychologically.

How do you pass the time while traveling? Do you have an essential item that you bring with you everywhere?
It’s interesting, for some reason I always feel like I’m busiest when I’m traveling. Not much changes in my daily routine when I’m on the road versus when I’m at home.  But I always feel there is way less time in the day when we’re in a hotel. There always seems to be something I need to do. Not to mention there are many more social opportunities on the road because we’re traveling with other people, and there are generally other teams around. I do generally travel with my computer, and I always have a book or two lined up.

What does your diet consist of? Do you have a favorite pre-race dinner and breakfast? Do you enjoy eating foreign food when you travel?
I try to have as diverse a diet as possible. I think it’s important not to get stuck in a rut with my eating habits. When I’m at home in Aspen, my mom is very nutrition-conscious and feeds me very well. She also supports the idea of a raw diet, including raw milk, beef, and eggs. I don’t get as concerned with nutrition as she does, but I try to eat healthily, and I eat what I’m served. When I go to foreign countries, I enjoy seeing and trying all different foods. My stomach is pretty good at handling anything, including for a pre-race meal. I just like to keep my quantity in check a little before a race and maybe avoid milk products for a couple hours leading up to a race.

What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Maybe my love of technical theater and the time I’ve spent learning how to put on a good production.
What, if anything, do you do besides ski?  How do you spend your weeks off?
I don’t take a set amount of time completely off in the spring or any other time. I have found that I’m generally pretty fired up to start training as soon as the season’s over. Last spring however, I did get to go to Paris for a couple of weeks with my family to visit my sister who was taking a semester abroad from the University of Colorado. I always look forward to spring alpine skiing as well, but the spring is a good time to start getting your running legs under you and do some fun workouts.

How has the transition to the U.S. Ski Team gone? Has there been a major change in your life?
It’s a great honor to have been named to the US Team. The most exciting part for me was the opportunity to attend several camps with the World Cup skiers. The opportunity to go on an OD with Kris Freeman, do speeds with Andy Newell, hop in with Torin Koos on bounding intervals, or double pole behind Chris Cook has been fantastic! They are opportunities to train with the best in the world. Also, it’s been awesome to work with the coaching staff, get a different perspective on training and my plans, and get to work on cutting edge technique and training methods. Not too much has changed though. I’ve always thought of it as my job to organize and synchronize all the coaches I’m working with. This year, instead of just meshing the ideas of the Sun Valley coaches with John’s and my plan, I now take the ideas of the US Ski Team coaches along with Travis Jones of Sun Valley into account when I make my plan and then review it with John. It’s worked smoothly for the most part and I’m really happy with the ‘team’ I have.

Do you have a message for aspiring young skiers? How does a young skier get to where you are now?
I think the most important thing for me has been consistency with training. You can’t take large amounts of time off; you have to keep building the hours and intensity and focus. Also, consistency in following the plan has been important for me. I know everyone’s different in this regard, but I follow my plan to a T. It’s funny, because I’m the one who designed it, but I’m generally very inflexible with the plan once it’s written. Some people train by feel. Even if they have a written plan, they’ll be willing to change it in a second at the smallest sign of fatigue, tiredness, or sickness. This wouldn’t work for me, because I would never train if I allowed myself to take a day off whenever I didn’t feel like getting out the door, or I would cut every workout short. I have been working on recognizing potential over-training or sickness and being able to adjust my plan accordingly. What I generally do is call John and tell him how I’m feeling, and then let him tell me not to train. That way it’s OK to take time off, reduce my intensity or just go out for a shorter workout.


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