Local Enduro racer never gave up on his dreams
Ulmer went from skiing to mountain biking to coaching
September 1, 2017
When Naish Ulmer was growing up in Park City, he wanted — like many in the area — to become a professional skier.
The 2009 Park City High School graduate shared this dream with many of his friends growing up, including some that made it to that level, such as Alex Schlopy and Joss Christensen. While he was trying to obtain his goal, though, Ulmer needed something to do during the summer months when skiing wasn't an option.
Attending the Winter Sports School was a possibility, but Ulmer, 27, decided he wasn't cut out for it. Instead, he picked up mountain biking during the offseason. The rest is history.
"I picked up mountain biking a long, long time ago, but I didn't take it seriously until I was a freshman in high school," Ulmer said. "After that, I was like, 'This is amazing.' It turned into a hobby and then it turned into a job."
His career has taken off since turning his complete attention to biking, traveling up and down the West Coast and securing multiple titles along the way. Most recently, Ulmer competed in the SCOTT Enduro Cup at Deer Valley — his home course — where he claimed second place behind fellow Utah native Cody Kelley.
Growing up in Park City, Ulmer — who hasn't owned a car for the last five years and bikes just about everywhere — felt he had somewhat of an advantage heading into the Deer Valley race, but he also said that others, such as Kelley, felt the same way.
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"The people that were on the box — Cody, myself and [Parker Degray] — we all grew up here," Ulmer said. "It was all Utah natives. I ride it more, but they know the trails just as well as I do.
"If I came from out of state and rode Deer Valley, it would be hard. Every race, there's always that one local racer that just crushes it. You just have to try to follow him or something like that, or use him as a guideline."
Before taking the sport by storm, Ulmer first had to give up on his original goal of becoming a pro skier and focus on his mountain biking career. Park City High School didn't have the mountain biking club it has now, so Ulmer had to go out and ride on his own.
It was his escape away from the real world.
"It's my own little bubble," Ulmer said. "It's something for me to just get away from people and go out in the woods and kind of get lost. The adrenaline is the best thing ever."
That said, he's never forgotten his first love, skiing roughly 100 days per year. In fact, Ulmer said there's a direct correlation between the two sports.
"A lot of legs and [skiing] actually helps you with the straight-on aspect of things," Ulmer said. "Snowboarding, you're sideways, but with biking and skiing, they're kind of the same. If you go in the trees, it's the same idea. You're ripping through trees, looking past trees for the next turn. It's kind of the same thing. It's a little different, but has the same concept."
Next up for Ulmer's career will be the Ranger Creek Enduro, part of the Cascadia Dirt Cup, in Enumclaw, Washington. Ulmer claims that he's gotten faster with his age, so he doesn't have any immediate plans to stop competing, but he already has a game plan set for when that time comes.
"I want to keep coaching," said Ulmer, who's coached with a number of mountain biking programs, as well as Park City United on the skiing side of things. "I actually want to have my own company, my own business — Naish Dash Racing. I want to give back what knowledge I have.
"I can only go so long for so fast for so many years, but I've got to realize there's a point where I can't do it anymore. I want to coach kids, adults, teenagers, and to share the passion that I have."
No matter where life takes Ulmer, though, he'll always live by the words once told to him by Tanner Hall, a friend from Ulmer's teenage days.
"Never give up. Always succeed. Just have fun doing it," Ulmer said. "If you have all those three ingredients, life will never be a challenge."
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