At this time of year, Noah Hoffman is focused on one thing; getting as ready as he possibly can for the first races of the season.
FasterSkier caught up with the USST B-team member, who has been training in the ski tunnel in Torsby, Sweden in preparation for the start of the World Cup season on November 19th and 20th in Sjusjøen, Norway.
Hoffman set up the time trial so he’d have to treat the entire day exactly like the day of a World Cup, starting with his warm-up and cool-down.
For the warm up, Hoffman usually includes a pre-race threshold of five minutes on an uphill on the course. However, being in the ski tunnel changed things a little bit — “You’ve got a 30 second uphill in the tunnel and that’s it,” he said — so instead his threshold ended up being a lap and a half of the loop in the tunnel.
With the warm-up done, Hoffman focused on getting everything ready, just like he would for race day, including wax preparation.
“I had Randy [Gibbs, USST wax technician] working on my skis; [I] had him make adjustments to the wax a few times,” he said.
He also stuck close to the specific schedule, including his start time, even though he was the only athlete doing the time trial and one of very few people skiing in the tunnel at the time.
Hoffman set his start time for 11 am, and kept to it – even if he wasn’t quite ready, as he wanted to practice working within a full-on race setting.
“[I] need to practice all the little things that happen for a race, it’s not just about the effort,” said Hoffman.
Hoffman raced 10 k in the tunnel, doing 4 laps in total. In a tunnel, the race course is slightly different – Hoffman would do a lap in one direction, turn around, then do it again backwards to get a 2.5 k loop, which he did four times.
While that kind of repetitive skiing might sound boring to some, Hoffman felt comfortable.
“In terms of mentally focusing, once you start going, it’s almost easier to push yourself on a short loop,” he said.
“When I’m in a race, I tell myself, second to last time up this hill, last time up this hill. [There is a] lot of opportunity to do that in the tunnel.”
He also went without his preferred race-staple: splits. Instead of being given splits throughout the time trial, he found out how his pacing was at the end. While he said that “they help motivate a little bit” during the race, the goal of going without intermediate times was to make it harder for himself.
“I tend to lean towards whatever is harder so you get practice doing that,” he said. “You don’t always hear splits during a race.”
For recovery, Hoffman said it was all about the skiing. Despite already having skied 10 k in circles, he added on another three laps of the tunnel and a twenty minute jog, which he does after a World Cup race as well.
The biggest goal of the workout was to focus on going hard; “We got the most important thing done, I’d say that,” he said.