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Olympic cross-country skier has ties to local Jewish community

Noah Hoffman models the U.S. Olympic Team’s Closing Ceremony uniform.

Noah Hoffman is once again a member of the U.S. Olympic Cross-County Ski Team. Also a member of the 2014 team, Hoffman’s grandmother, Hildy Cohen Hoffman Flanigan, is a lifelong Kansas Citian. It goes without saying that she thinks “it’s cool” that he’s in the Olympics and she’s very proud of him.

“He’s a good guy and he’s worked hard to get where he is. It’s a huge, huge commitment. Going to the Olympics doesn’t just happen,” Flanigan said.

Hoffman was named to the Olympic team on Jan. 26. That day on his blog he wrote that he was very excited to share the news.

“I am proud to again represent the United States in the biggest sporting event in the world. My training has been going very well, the hilly courses and the cold slow snow in Korea suit my strengths perfectly, and I can’t wait to put together races that represent all of the hard work that I’ve done over the past 15 years. I would not be here without the incredible and continuous support of so many people, including the entire U.S. Nordic Community. Thank you for giving me every opportunity to succeed,” he wrote.

The 28-year-old son of Sharon and Michael Hoffman grew up in Aspen, Colorado, and has been skiing since he was 4. He is a member of the Vail Ski and Snowboard Club.

His resume from the Sochi Olympics includes finishing 10th in the 4x10K relay, 24th in the 50K freestyle, 29th in the 15K classic and 30th in in the skiathlon 15K/15K. Following the Olympics, Russian athletes in several of those events were disqualified and had their medals stripped due to steroid use, but other skiers did not receive medals in their place, according to Hoffman’s grandmother.

Hoffman participated in the world championships in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017. His top finish was 10th in the 4x10K relay in 2013.

The Olympic skier has overcome some big obstacles since Sochi, including breaking a leg in November 2014 at the 2014 World Cup event in Kuusamo, Finland. He suffered with pneumonia in early 2017, which affected him for the remainder of the 2016/17 season.

Following those setbacks Grandma Flanigan noted, “He has been working out every single day since he was well enough to start doing it. That’s the commitment you have to make to go to the Olympics.”

He arrived in PyeongChang, South Korea, last weekend and is ensconced in the Olympic Village there. After he arrived, he noted in his blog that the XXIII Olympic Winter Games is not just another ski race.

“Now that I’m here, there are reminders everywhere that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, a lifelong dream and a serious honor to be a part of Team USA. I’m surprising myself with how happy I am to be here. I am jittery with energy and anticipation. I feel like I’m 18 again, arriving at my first World Junior Championships. I don’t remember feeling quite this amount of ecstasy when arriving in Sochi,” he wrote.

Hoffman raced at the skiing venue in PyeongChang last year for the test event and said it is nice to be back. On his first day there this time around he wrote on his blog, “The skiing is really nice but it’s quite cold (around 10° to 15°F) and a little too windy to be pleasant.”

Hoffman is a prolific blogger and posts photos and updates regularly. To keep up with his adventures in South Korea, visit noahhoffman.com. For example, early this week he explained how he and his fellow skiers will get their meals.

“The Haven is a joint venture facility between U.S. Ski and Snowboard and the U.S. Olympic Committee, with dining, strength and treatment facilities exclusively for U.S. athletes. Although we have access to the Village dining hall, we are encouraged to eat all of our lunches and dinners at The Haven, and to eat breakfasts in our apartment, in order to limit our exposure to germs. Illness is often a huge problem in the Olympic Village. Also, The Haven has higher quality food than the dining hall because they are making smaller quantities,” he wrote.

He is expected to compete in four events in PyeongChang and his first race is scheduled to be televised at midnight CST Saturday, Feb. 10, on NBCSN. (Check your local cable listings for the appropriate channel number.)

Hoffman’s grandmother is proud of his work ethic.

“He’s been working real hard to be an Olympian. It doesn’t come easily. I’m very proud that he has persevered with this. It’s a huge, huge commitment to do that. I’m really proud of him for having the gumption to keep on going, even when things were kind of crummy there for a while,” Flannigan said.

She believes this will be her grandson’s last hurrah as a cross-country skier. He graduated high school in 2007 and now he wants to obtain a college degree.