Steven Nyman eyes big summer
On Jan. 30, U.S. downhill skier Steven Nyman, a Utah native and Park City Ski Team alum, finished 10th at a World Cup competition in Garmisch Partenkirchen, Germany.
From that point on, his season (ironically) went uphill.
On Feb. 2, Nyman finished third at a downhill World Cup in Jeongseon, South Korea. Two weeks later, he finished second in Chamonix, France. On March 12, he snagged a bronze medal in Kvitfjell, Norway, and ended his late-season surge with a second-place finish in the final World Cup event of the year in St. Moritz, Switzerland, on March 16.
Unfortunately for Nyman, the season ended after St. Moritz and he wasn’t able to continue his hot streak. But, he said, knowing what he’s capable of on the world stage is motivating him to work hard this summer.
“I hope to bring that consistency and momentum into the summer,” he said. “It’s definitely motivating in the gym and it’s definitely an inspiration to experience that sort of consistency because that’s something I’ve always shot for. Knowing that it’s attainable and knowing that I don’t just perform at the beginning of the year and then peter out is big. It’s just putting all those pieces together.”
And, Nyman added, his strong results were even more satisfying after suffering an injury shortly after the South Korea World Cup.
“Right after Jeongseon, while training in Saalbach, Austria, I landed flat off this jump and hurt my knee,” he said. “That’s been a big thing this summer — trying to get this thing back in order. Knowing that I performed in those three World Cups [after Jeongseon] and had two of my best results with a bum knee, that’s pretty sweet.”
Now, Nyman is training in Park City, both on the trails and at the U.S. Ski Team’s Center of Excellence. He said he’s rehabbing his injured knee while trying to gain strength and endurance ahead of the 2016-17 season.
“The knee is feeling really good and I’m starting to get to a place where I can really push myself,” he said. “Obviously, the main goal is getting fit, but there are different levels of fit. There’s fit and then there’s ski fit. The number one goal is to become pain free. I’m getting there. Two is to get strong as hell and gain great endurance.”
To do that, Nyman said his workouts include exhausting cardio followed by exercises that require more subtle efforts.
“A lot of the stuff we do is we basically fatigue ourselves and then jump on a slackline or do another coordination thing,” he said. “You’re so tired, but you have to shift your mental state and continue to focus. That’s skiing. You’re hurling your body down a mountain at 90 mph balancing on a little edge. If you’re not focused, it’s not going to be that great. It’s training that ability to focus and push yourself under such stress.”
Nyman won’t have to train alone, though. He said he enjoys the atmosphere around the U.S. downhill team and the alpine team in general. Whether it’s mountain biking, road biking or hiking, Nyman and his teammates will be working hard this summer.
The great thing about this year’s team, Nyman said, is the desire among all the members to prove themselves on a world stage while still having fun competing in a sport they love.
“We have a great crew,” he said. “Right now, Andrew [Weibrecht], myself, Travis [Ganong] — we’re the strong three, the big three, I guess. Ted [Ligety] can throw it in the super G and then there are the young guys — Jared [Goldberg], Wiley [Maple], [Tommy] Biesemeyer, Erik Arvidsson, [Drew] Duffy — there’s a lot of talent coming up.
“When you have that group support and a vibe of, ‘Come on, let’s see what you’ve got,’ everybody just keeps stepping it up. I witnessed that with Daron [Rahlves] and Bode [Miller]. Those two would push each other to the next level. That’s something I wanted to foster on the team and I think we’re in a good place to do so.”
The U.S. will host four total World Cups this winter, two of which will feature men’s downhill races — Dec. 2 in Beaver Creek, Colorado, and World Cup finals on March 15 in Aspen, Colorado.
Nyman said he’s excited to compete on home soil in a year where he expects to compete for an overall downhill title.
“A couple years ago, I went through the whole [World Cup schedule] and was like, ‘I can podium here, I can podium there and there and there,’” he said. “I can podium everywhere, so it’s like, why aren’t I doing that? I definitely believe I can. I want to hammer all the way through the whole season and go into Aspen knowing I already have the title wrapped up. That’d be cool and it’d be a dream season.”
If Nyman’s success from the end of last season carries through the summer and into this coming winter, the downhiller could find himself moving up again — to the top of the podium.
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