They spend half the year competing against Norway every weekend in Europe, but for a few days this June, U.S. distance specialists Kris Freeman and Noah Hoffman will be welcomed into the Norwegian National Team’s training camp on the snow fields at Sognefjell.
If you don’t happen to read every paid advertisement that goes up on this site, you may have missed the announcement of this interesting tidbit by Caldwell Sport. As owner Zach Caldwell explains, the opportunity came about via invitation from Trond Nystad, who was a U.S. Ski Team (USST) coach before taking his current position at the head of Norway’s program.
Caldwell will also be picking skis on this trip, but for the two USST athletes he coaches in his spare time, it’s primarily an opportunity to get on snow and learn from some pretty good skiers.
FasterSkier met with Freeman and Hoffman before they headed out for an afternoon session in Bend, Ore., this week to ask about the trip. Both were looking forward to the chance to absorb training perspectives from foreign athletes.
“The Norwegian National Team guys — I know a couple of them but I’ve never really done any training with those guys, really with any foreign athletes,” Hoffman said. “They have some of the best athletes in the world, so I’m really looking forward to that and hopefully … learn a lot and make some improvements.”
Nearly nine years Hoffman’s senior, Freeman also thought exposure to other skiers would be beneficial experience in the offseason. He approached Nystad while on the World Cup this winter to ask if he could get some summer skiing in with the Norwegians.
“Trond’s always been very helpful to me and supportive of the U.S. Ski Team, so there was no problem when I approached them,” Freeman said. “I’m hoping to see something from different skiers that I haven’t thought of yet and see a way of approaching the World Cup that I haven’t seen. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I do most of it solo, so getting perspectives from other people is going to be good.”
On top of training with the current Norwegian all-stars, Hoffman’s Madshus sponsorship might also have him getting technique advice from the company’s technical adviser and resident nordic legend, Thomas Alsgaard.
As Caldwell described on his website, Alsgaard saw Hoffman ski last December in Davos, Switzerland. Madshus’s Stian Grønås pointed Hoffman out to Alsgaard as the American skied around the day after placing 31st in the 30 k, which apparently impressed Alsgaard.
“He’s a great technician in terms of producing technique and I’m open to benefit from his expertise,” said Hoffman of the possibility of working with one of Norway’s most decorated skiers. “If I can do a couple of sessions with him that would be awesome.”
Between the Bend camp, Sognefjell and USST camps scheduled in central Europe this summer, Hoffman’s training schedule appears to be fairly booked. We took this as a sign that his shoulder, which he dislocated in March at Spring Series, is recovering well — at least, well enough to ski on.
As it turns out, the shoulder situation is “OK.” After getting an MRI and consulting with multiple doctors this spring, Hoffman learned that he re-tore his labrum in the same spot he had surgery last year. For now he doesn’t plan on going under the knife, but it could be a possibility down the road if the shoulder keeps popping out.
“It doesn’t hurt or affect me on normal range, but I need to be cautious and I have a good understanding of it,” said Hoffman. “It’s looser and much more prone to coming out that it would be.”
“If it goes two years and it doesn’t come out again, I’m not going to go under the knife,” he continued. “I happen to think that it might come out several times this year, and there’s not necessarily a huge increased risk each time it comes out except for it loosens up a little bit more and there is a long-term risk for arthritis if you let it come out over and over again.”
Hoffman hopes he can at least wait until after the 2014 Olympics for any surgery, and in the meantime will be trying to strengthen his shoulder and reduce its risk of dislocating again with specific exercises and physical therapy.
“I’ll try to do that — just looking to be a little cautious,” he said.
— Chelsea Little contributed reporting.
Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.