Olympic Nordic skier Noah Hoffman tunes up in local race after breaking leg
Last November U.S. Olympic Nordic skier Noah Hoffman’s season took an unexpected turn when the Aspen native lost control coming around a corner in a 15K individual-start classic race. It was in the final kilometers of the first World Cup race of the season in Kuusamo, Finland. In the ensuing crash, Hoffman broke his fibia above the ankle when his skis got caught in the course fencing.
For the first time since the injury, Hoffman was back racing Saturday as a special guest in the 45th annual Gold Rush Nordic races at the Frisco peninsula.
“Today was a big test,” Hoffman said of the open-entry amateur 10K skate race — part of a full day of racing that also included a 30K and high school level 5K. “The primary training objective was as a tune-up race.”
Hoffman has been living with his girlfriend in Summit County while rehabbing. He told the Daily he’s been back on snow for the last four weeks. He plans to return to the World Cup circuit next week in Oestersund, Sweden, with one event before the world championships in Falun, Sweden, Feb. 18 to March 3.
When asked about his recovery he said, “My ankle feels great. Everything has gone incredibly smoothly.”
As to his return to World Cup competition, he said it was a bit of an unknown, but he was optimistic.
“I’m really excited. I think it’s going to be great,” he said of returning in time for the world championships. “I hope to be firing on all cylinders.”
For last Saturday’s race Hoffman said his boot sponsors had to remold his boot to accommodate some ankle swelling still remaining from his December surgery. He had to have pins and a plate surgically implanted near the ankle to repair his leg. The initial injury also caused some ligament damage where the fibula connects to the tibia.
With the new boot, Hoffman raced to a first-place finish Saturday in his tune-up competition, skiing the 10K course in 25 minutes, 10.6 seconds.
Summit County local Cameron Bobb took second in 26:58.4.
Former U.S. National Champion Sylvian Ellofson and Argentinean World Cup skier Carlos Lannes also took part in the event, along with around a 175 amateur skiers split between the 30K and 10K.
“It was such a cool event,” Hoffman said of the annual competition that raises money for the Summit Nordic Ski Club. “The course was in great shape.”
While rehabbing in the county, Hoffman has trained alongside club members on a few occasions. He said having the opportunity to explore the area has been eye-opening.
“Growing up in Aspen, I thought Summit County was just a stop on the interstate,” Hoffman said, laughing. “Now I realize it’s much more than that. It’s cool getting to know the area. … There’s such an outstanding Nordic community.”
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