Who is... Simi Hamilton?
Like many Nordic athletes, Simi (short for Simeon, which no one outside of his mom ever calls him) made cross-country his life’s pursuit to guarantee he would have a career which kept him in his favorite place in the world – outside.
Raised on the mountains of Aspen, Colorado, Hamilton was first introduced to skiing when he was two years old by his mom, Ruthie. Mother and son would take runs down the surrounding mountains together, attached by a leash which Hamilton’s mother would use to help steer her son. He says his family was probably “one of the most active families in Colorado” when he was a kid. Backcountry skiing on crust on Aspen’s Independence Pass is a place you would have found Hamilton, his family and their friends carving away the weekend hours.
Hamilton’s family has deep ties in the skiing community in Aspen. His grandfather, D.R.C. “Darcy” Brown was the chief executive for the Aspen Skiing Company from 1957-1979, back when lift tickets cost a fraction of what they do today. Founded by a group of World War II veterans, the organization helped establish Aspen as one of the world’s most revered skiing destinations in the world.
Hamilton has won four World Cup sprint medals over the course of his career, making him the most decorated member of the U.S. men’s cross-country ski team. In 2013, he won gold in a sprint stage of the Tour de Ski for his first World Cup medal. During the 2015-16 World Cup season he won a bronze during a sprint stage of the Tour de Ski in Canada, while previously winning sprint silver in Toblach, Italy. Back at Toblach in 2017, Hamilton won sprint silver for a second time on the trails of the Italian Alps.
His best individual finish at a world championship came in 2015 when he placed 12th in the sprint.
Hamilton is a valuable component in team relay events for a U.S. roster still trying to break through the bottleneck of European skiing talent at the top of leaderboards. At the 2017 World Championships, Hamilton teamed with his friend Erik Bjornsen to finish 5th in the team sprint, and came in 10th with the U.S. in the men’s 4x10km relay.
Hamilton says he had a breakout moment on cross-country skis when he was 16. That year he traveled to Estonia to race against the best 16 and 17 year olds from ski nations like Norway, Sweden and Finland. He finished third in the sprint event and knew from that point on that he could hang with the best in the world.
Hamilton is a sprinter. At the end of the 2016-17 season he was ranked 19th in the world in the discipline. The sprint is an event where timing is everything and split-second tactical decisions can be the key to success. Hamilton relies on his 10+ years of racing experience to know when to bide his time by tucking behind a competitor’s slipstream versus busting through an opening in the pack to charge for the finish.
"The longest workout I've ever done was a traverse of the major summits in the Teton Range in Wyoming. It included Mt. Teewinot, Mt. Owen, Grand Teton, Middle Teton, South Teton and Nez Perce. It took 19 hours and I was definitely pretty beat by the end."
Hamilton has competed in two Olympic Winter Games. Named to the U.S. team before he skied his first World Cup race – due to the U.S. picking up a quota spot during FIS reallocation – Hamilton made his Olympic debut in 2010 in Vancouver. His best individual finish in Vancouver was in the sprint, where he qualified for the quarterfinal heats but finished near the bottom in 29th place. As the anchor of the men’s relay in 2010, Hamilton and his U.S. teammates finished 13th.
Four years later, and with more international racing experience, Hamilton skied to an impressive 6th place in the sprint in Sochi in 2014.
There isn’t much this thrill seeker won’t try when it comes to extracurriculars outside of cross-country. The man loves to climb his rock and run among them. When he’s in the mountains of Vermont he’ll jump into races run on trails either by foot or on a mountain bike.
When on the west coast he surfs. If he's near a river, he'll kayak, and if there's a cliff next to that river, there's a good bet he'll jump off it.
His competitive streak even comes out when playing pool, as in billiards, against U.S. teammate Erik Bjornsen. Hamilton says if there’s a table where they’re staying on the World Cup, the two could end up playing for hours.
Another U.S. teammate Hamilton winds up spending a lot of time with is his girlfriend, Sophie Caldwell.