Simi Hamilton happy training in LP
LAKE PLACID — Three-time Olympic cross country skier Simi Hamilton has made a career out of skiing for the U.S. National Team, but said recently that he will take his time to evaluate whether he wants to make it four-straight Olympics in 2022.
Hamilton said he was happy to be training again in Lake Placid, as much of the team spends time regularly training nearby in Vermont.
“Generally, we do a fall training camp in October,” the Boulder, Colorado native said. “We used to do it every fall in Lake Placid and then for a while we were going out to Park City (Utah). I think our coaches kind of like the altitude aspect of Park City, but this year we wanted to stick a little closer to home. Most of us that are here now train mostly in Vermont.
“It makes a lot of sense to come here; it’s super convenient. It’s awesome training here. I think being here in the fall, if it’s good weather, it’s some of the best training you can find. It’s pretty perfect.”
Hamilton, who recently married teammate and two-time Olympian Sophie Caldwell, said during an interview at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid last week that with the next games three years away, he isn’t counting on a fourth trip to the Winter Olympics.
“I haven’t really made any big picture decisions,” he said. “I think my wife Sophie and I are just taking our time. We’ll see how this season goes and then decide on whether to keep skiing for another season after that.
“Right now, the 2022 Games seems pretty far out and I think I’m personally kind of ready to at least think about what I want to do next after skiing. But with that said, anything could happen. I could have a really awesome year this year and get motivated to ski another year and that could just keep happening. We could be having this conversation 10 years from now. I don’t want to put a label on anything at this point. I figure as long as I’m having fun and staying fit, I don’t have any reason to stop anytime soon.”
Hamilton has a couple of top-10 finishes in the Olympics, as well as several top-20s. Caldwell, who is a Vermont native, has also been to the past two Olympics, with four top-10 finishes as well. The pair met while on the national team, and Hamilton said their unique careers and traveling together has made the transition into marriage a little easier.
“We started dating five and a half, six years ago, and we’ve been on the team together that entire time,” he said. “We’ve been traveling together that entire time. The cross country World Cup is pretty cool, basically all the men and women have essentially all the same races. So every weekend we’re in the same place, we’re training together. It works out pretty well.
“If we can survive that test of basically spending every minute of every day together for six years, then I figure that’s a pretty good test for the rest of our lives. It’s been awesome for both of us. Of course there’s little squabbles we have in the hotel rooms … but we’ve found that being together on the road has allowed us to survive that sometimes challenging lifestyle because we have each other.”
Like other Winter Olympians like Lake Placid-based biathlete Maddie Phaneuf and gold medalist Jessie Diggins, Hamilton has taken up fighting climate change as he sees first hand the toll a warming climate can have on his sport and profession. He largely works through a group called Protect Out Winters, which lobbies for climate action.
“Probably the biggest thing that lit a fire within me to start speaking up about it was kind of seeing the big changes during the winter, especially in Europe,” he said. “I remember when I first started skiing World Cups in 2010, you’d go over there and be able to rely on really good conditions starting in early November no matter where you went. And since then, it’s been so inconsistent over there.
“There’s been years where we were skiing on a man-made platform in January in places like Davos, Switzerland, where there’s usually four meters of snow by the end of December. It’s really become something physical that I’m experiencing and can see. And that has been the biggest sounding alarm for me.
“It’s awesome because as an athlete ambassador, you have the freedom to design how much you want to be involved or how you want to help. I think talking to kids is awesome — going to a school definitely has a huge impact, but we do a lot of outreach events with our club team in Vermont and through the national team,” he continued. “So just being able to have that conversation with kids and getting them engaged at any level — as long as they’re aware of the things that are happening, I think that’s the most important thing.
“I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen in talking to kids and seeing that they’re starting to pick up on the fact that they should maybe be caring about these issues, too.”