FALUN, Sweden (March 1, 2015) - Noah Hoffman (Aspen, CO) skied to a 31st place in a difficult 50k classic race, the close of the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. On a track that broke down early, the race was held tightly together by the conditions. Despite early attempts from race favorites, breakaway efforts were absorbed by the heavy, slow snow. Hoffman demonstrated considerable grit holding to the lead pack until just under 40 kilometers into the race, a feat given his lack of World Cup racing this season due to injury.
Noah Hoffman (bib 34) skiing with the lead pack at the Falun 50K. He finished 31st. (Getty Images-Mike Hewitt)
Two factors defined the eventual winners of the race. Veteran racer, Lukas Bauer of the Czech Republic was the lone skier in the field to change skis at the final opportunity, ten kilometers before the finish. The added kick and freeing glide of his skis allowed him to put on a late-race silver medal effort. However, Perennial World Cup strongman, Petter Northug of Norway was not to be beaten. The outspoken racer took his fourth gold of the championships in a sprint finish after conserving energy patiently and spending the majority of the race near the back of the lead pack. Johan Olsson of Sweden won bronze.
With a running time nearly 10 percent higher than typical 50k World Cup efforts, Sunday's slow snow took a visible toll on the field. Countless broken poles, more ski changes than usual and a higher percentage of skiers taking feeds at every possible support position signaled a tough day to conclude racing in Falun. Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) finished 43rd. Matt Gelso (Truckee, CA) did not finish.
The U.S. team and the World Cup circuit now turn their attention to the remaining World Cup weekends beginning on March 7th in Lahti, Finland.