Athletes Giving Back: Steven Nyman
Skiing is an expensive hobby. Lift tickets are pricey and purchasing your own equipment can cost upwards of $1,000, even for a used set.
Here in Park City, though, the sport is still very popular. Park City features the biggest ski resort in the United States after Vail Resorts merged Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons this season.
Steven Nyman, an alpine skier on the U.S. Ski Team and a three-time Olympian, wants to make sure as many kids as possible, even those from underprivileged backgrounds, are able to enjoy the sport he loves.
Working with SOS Outreach, a youth development nonprofit that "fosters self-confidence, leadership skills and positive decision making in underserved youth," Nyman will be the first athlete ambassador for the newly-formed Park City program.
"This year, they’re starting up with like 50 kids and it’s going to grow, hopefully in two years, to have it up to something like 1,500," he said. "There will be kids from Salt Lake and surrounding towns like Heber and Kamas in addition to Park City."
SOS Outreach has several programs around the West, Nyman said, and is supported by Vail Resorts.
"They’re all over — Colorado, Seattle, California," he said. "Vail is a big sponsor of this. They definitely make this happen. With the acquisition of Park City [Mountain Resort], they’re trying to bring the program here."
Having traveled around the world, the Utah native said he’s come to appreciate how lucky he was growing up. He wants to help less-fortunate children have the chance to experience the mountains in the winter.
"Everywhere I go, I realize how fortunate I am," he said. "I didn’t grow up with much money — my dad ran the ski school at Sundance and we skied that way. I want to give people that opportunity I had to fall in love with the sport. I can’t think of a better environment to test your abilities, test what you’re capable of. To give those opportunities to at-risk youth is pretty cool. To occupy their minds with something they can engage with and not be idle, that’s super important."
Though skiing and snowboarding are big components of the SOS programs, Nyman said there’s more to it.
"It’s actually creating a mentorship program for [the children] and having them mentor and do public service for others as well," he said. "They get the reward to go out and ski and push themselves if they do these certain things."
Another big aspect of the program is fitness and getting outside. Nyman said it’s important to get children away from their electronics as much as possible.
"I was never a Nintendo guy," he said. "The computer drives me crazy still. To see what else is out there is so important. To get their hearts pumping and their minds working in different capacities, I think that’s critical. To ski for a long run takes a lot of strength. I think it’s one of the best ways to stay fit and you can do it from when you’re 2 until you’re 92."
Nyman is now in Europe for a string of competitions, but said he’d be back in Utah to work with SOS after the World Cup season concludes in mid-March. Now 33, he said he plans to be a fixture on the U.S. Ski Team for a few more years, at least.
"My [plan is] to go through 2019, through the  Olympics to the  World Championships in Sweden," he said. "I’ve always said I’ll do it as long as I love it and am healthy and happy. I’ll be 36 [in 2019]. Guys have definitely skied beyond that, though, so I’ll see how I feel."
Nyman’s next downhill race is scheduled for Dec. 16-17 in Val Gardena/Groeden, Italy. For more information on the SOS Outreach organization, visit http://www.sosoutreach.org .
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