The US Ski Team’s Noah Hoffman spent most of the winter racing in Europe, with stints back in the United States for National Championships and the SuperTour Finals. With two top-30’s at World Championships in Oslo, Norway leading the way, Noah had his best season to date, adding strong performances on the World Cup and U23 World Championships.
Along the way, Noah sent periodic updates back to friends and family – a digital diary documenting the entire 2010-2011 training and racing season. The journey started over a year ago with the end of the 2010 campaign and a trip to New York City. With stops in Bend, Oregon, Lake Placid, New York, Finland, Latvia, Estonia and Norway among others, Noah had plenty to write home about before he wrapped things up in Sun Valley, Idaho this April at the SuperTour Finals.
He has graciously shared these updates with FasterSkier, providing a unique year-long perspective on the life of an elite ski racer. We will publish Noah’s updates in serial form, with a new one coming every few days.
The first installment starts with the conclusion of the 2010 racing season as Noah recharges his batteries and plans his training for the upcoming year.
My 2009-2010 race season was nothing like I had hoped, but I am already busy building fitness for next winter. This past season was something of a comedy of errors. I had trouble figuring out my training and racing fitness and energy management, but I also got tangled up and ended up on the ground in a few races at the end of the year. By March I found it difficult to get deeply emotionally involved in each race. I kept expecting something to go wrong! Consequently I was finding creative ways to take myself out. Eventually I found myself racing in confusion and disbelief.
On the other hand, this spring has been refreshing, relaxing, and productive. It started with getting away from racing and having some fun. After my last races in northern Maine, I spent a couple of nights with a good friend at Dartmouth College and then went to my teammate’s house in Montpellier, Vermont. My sister joined me there and we played tourist for a couple of days. We toured the Ben and Jerry’s factory and walked around Stowe. Next, we hopped on the Greyhound down to Boston. There we got to meet our relatives, Alan and Cecily Morse and their kids and grandchildren. Alan and Cecily generously put us up, and we had a great time there. Maggie looked at BU as a potential location to pursue her graduate studies.
Next we hopped on a train down to New York City where we met our parents. The four of us had a whole week in the City to see the sights and relax.
We had a great trip. It was my first time there, and I really enjoyed it. It didn’t hurt that we had sunshine and warm temperatures the whole time we were there. We got to see two Broadway plays: Mary Poppins and Fela, both of which were spectacular. We also spent some afternoons just relaxing in Central Park.
New York was the perfect place for me to forget about skiing and recharge. By the time I got back to Aspen I was ready to take the lessons from this past year and move forward towards next season.
My coach from Boulder drove up for a couple of days in Aspen. We sat down with my coach from Aspen, and the three of us reviewed the past season, discussed the lessons learned, outlined the focus areas for this training season, and came up with a plan moving forward. We had a really productive session, and I’m really happy with what we came up with. For the first time in a long time I’m optimistic about my skiing career.
There will be several big changes this year. Although I am going to live in Park City again this summer, it will be a very different training situation than last year. I will not be working with a coach on a daily basis; instead, I will work with my coach in Boulder on a technique plan in blocks. I will spend 4 or 5 days in Boulder every couple of weeks, especially early this spring working intensely on technique. Then I will spend 2-3 weeks working on technique by myself. The approach and changes we are trying to make are very different than what I was working on last year.
I will also be training under a different model. Instead of training 3 weeks hard and 1 week easy, I am now going to train 3 days hard and 1 day easy. We have adapted this method from Kris Freeman, the top US distance skier. It will allow us to keep a closer eye on recovery and have more opportunities to evaluate the training load.
Other changes I will make this year include less strength training, less intensity, no psychology work, less non-training obligations, and more time on-snow this summer.
However, I wasn’t quite done enjoying myself this spring. As soon as my coaches left I headed down to Phoenix with my mom to visit my grandparents. It was great to get out of the winter-like weather in Aspen to go someplace warm.
My grandpa even tried to teach me something resembling a golf swing.
Needless to say, I have a lot to learn!
As soon as I got back from Phoenix I went to Boulder for my first technique block. It was really productive and I’m happy with where things are headed. I’m now back in Aspen for a couple of weeks. On May 17th I’ll head back to Boulder for another block, and then I’m off to Bend, Oregon for the first camp of the year, on-snow at Mt. Bachelor.
Lastly, I haven’t forgotten about an education. I absolutely still intend to go to school some day. If I don’t ski well and make significant progress next year, I may go to school in the fall of 2011. If that happens I will probably ski in school. I think my top choices are DU and Dartmouth. If my skiing career takes off and I make the World Cup team, I will probably ski as long as I’m still making progress and am competitive internationally. I will then go to school after my career and will not ski in school. Who knows where I’ll end up, but it would be awesome to go to a school like Harvard or Stanford.
Thanks for all of your continuing support!
— Noah Hoffman
The Hoffman Chronicles