KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (Feb. 23) – Noah Hoffman (Aspen, CO) skied into 26th after an impressive performance Sunday at the warm and sunny 50k mass start freestyle cross country race, the final event of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games. Hoffman stuck with the lead pack for much of the race, topping out in second before falling back in the last few kilometers and posting the top result for the USA. Alexander Legkov led a Russian podium sweep and vaulted their team to the top of the medals count in the last day of the Games. The cross country finale will air on NBC’s Daytime Olympic coverage Sunday at 2:00 p.m. EST and can be streamed in its entirety on NBCOlympics.com. Special coverage of the Closing Ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Games is scheduled for Sunday at 8:30 p.m. EST on NBC.
Here is Noah Hoffman (right) chasing race-winner Alexander Legkov of Russia. Hoffman finished 26th after an impressive performance Sunday at the 50k cross country race, the final event of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games. (Getty Images/AFP/Pierre-Philippe Marcou)
It was challenging for sure. My skis were awesome, so I owe a ton to my wax techs. I was right where I wanted to be for 45k and definitely started to suffer when we all went into the ski exchange. That’s when the pace seemed to heat up and things strung out. That was at 30k, but I stayed in there and got back right where I wanted to be. I just didn’t have it in the last three or four kilometers, especially up the last hill.
Twenty-sixth place is not what I’m looking for, but I think it’s moving in the right direction. I feel more comfortable right up near the front. I didn’t lead, which was definitely my plan not to lead. Maybe I would be a little better sitting a little further back in the pack, maybe getting a little better draft. That’s something my coaches and I will discuss.
The pace was pretty slow in the start up this big climb, but then the flat section it went really hard. We all sort of had an accordion effect. I thought my skis were pretty good. My legs were a little bit heavy, so I just couldn’t quite be on that pace. This is the race I’ve been focusing on. Overall I felt pretty good. I would have liked to have been in that pack a little bit longer. I was with that main group for about 25k.
What an incredible thing to be here at the Olympics and to put it all out there on the course. I had a gap in front of me and a gap behind me, but I still gave it everything I could out there and I’m happy about that.
Well I didn’t find out I was racing until yesterday evening. The coaches and I had decided that I was too tired to race, so we were going to let the other guys go. But then two of them got sick. So I put a bib on and did the best I could.
Because of where I’d been I didn’t have high expectations going into today. I’m disappointed with the results I’ve had at the Olympics. Today I went out and I skied as fast as I could and that’s what I’m here to do.
I think Noah was only a minute something out and that’s pretty good. He’s put up two World Cup wins this year in stages. He’s coming up rapidly and I think in four years he’s going to be something to watch.
I don’t know where I’ll be in four years. I would like to still be racing in two years, but if I’m racing like this I won’t be. I will definitely race next year and if I don’t come back into form next year that will be it.