Simi Hamilton’s duct-tape days are over.
After a spectacular winter that included an appearance at the 2010 Olympics and a national championship, the newly-minted U.S. Ski Team (USST) member begins the 2010-2011 season with a big jump in support and a long-term plan. Gone are the days of racing in disintegrating boots.
The basics for Hamilton remain the same. He’s still be based out of Ketchum, Idaho, working primarily with Travis Jones, his coach for the last year at the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation. His training plan is similar. But he’s looking a lot farther into the future—to the Sochi Olympics in 2014, and beyond.
“In the past, I’ve been pretty good at flying by the seat of my pants,” Hamilton said. “But I think everything that happened in this past season was kind of a wake-up call.”
Bursting at the seams with potential, Hamilton will still concentrate on the sprint, his specialty, during the upcoming year; he doesn’t yet have the training background to tap into for high-level distance racing. But by 2013, he hopes to have upped his training by 100 or 150 hours from this year, before bringing the load back down in time for the Games in 2014.
“I’m looking at these next few years mostly focusing on sprinting, while not totally neglecting my development as a distance skier, and then hopefully after Sochi tap into that foundation that I’ve built up,” he said.
After a vacation in Hawaii in April, Hamilton is already back to laying the bricks for that foundation at the USST’s camp in Bend, Oregon. The skiing there, Hamilton said, has been “unbelievable,” and he has relished getting back into the routine of daily training.
Once Bend wraps up, he’ll spend most of his summer in Ketchum, but with frequent trips with the USST to keep things fresh. There’s a four-day stint in Park City in June, a three-week visit to New Zealand for on-snow training in mid-summer, and then a fall camp in Lake Placid.
New Zealand will give Hamilton a chance to test new equipment—after the successes of last year, he said that his relationships with his sponsors have matured. It’s not just new boots—he’ll get skis picked from Europe with help from USST staff and Fischer. And on top of the gear, the USST will foot the bill for Hamilton’s travel expenses.
Once the snow starts flying in November, Hamilton will head to Europe with the rest of the USST for some early-season races in Muonio, Finland. Depending on how he’s racing, he could move up to the World Cup, or to some lower-level European races. Then, it’s probably back to the U.S., the national championships in Maine—where he has a title to defend in the skate sprint.
After Maine, there’s still “a design” to the season, Hamilton said, “but it more and more depends on how we skied at Nationals, and how we skied at those early races.”
At World Championships in Oslo in late February, the individual sprint is in the freestyle technique, Hamilton’s strength. Qualifying for those races—and performing well in them—is his biggest goal for the season, and to do so, he’ll have to ski fast and stay healthy in the early part of the year. That’s not unrealistic, he said.
“Going into next year, after a season like I had least year, definitely gives me confidence to be able to make a team like that, with a competitive field,” said Hamilton.
While there are nine months of training and racing from now until Oslo, the basics are all in place.
“When you look at everything lined out, it’s like, ‘all right, we’re into the thick of it right now,’” he said, “and it’s not going to last that long.”
Nathaniel Herz is a reporter for FasterSkier, who also covers city government for the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska. You can follow him on twitter @nat_herz.