Steven Nyman logs competitive season after returning from injury
After missing the two previous seasons to injury, alpine skier Steven Nyman is officially back. The Utah native and former Park City resident finished the FIS World Cup schedule with a strong downhill season, taking 16th overall, even after a handful of setbacks.
Nyman started his season with a bang, quickly working to the front of the competitive pack despite starting near 60th position in many races after losing his FIS World Cup points while sidelined from two consecutive season-ending knee injuries.
He moved up from outside of 30th to 11th at the season opener in Lake Louise, Canada, in November. Then, later that month in Beaver Creek, he took ninth, then climbed to fifth at Val Gardena in Italy, in December.
“That was great start,” Nyman said.
Then came the trials and tribulations.
He hit a rock at the next event, in Bormio, Italy, in December, and took 17th in downhill after placing seventh in a training run.
Then another more serious mishap followed at the next event at Wengen, Switzerland, in January.
“I caught an edge going about 95 (miles per hour) and did the splits, but my skis came back together so I kneed myself in the face and gave myself a concussion,” he said.
Nyman considers the accident — which forced him to miss races in Kitzbuehel, Austria — a close call. He was walking and talking immediately after the accident, which could have been much worse.
His first race back was the World Championships in Åre, Sweden, which was something of a marathon endeavor just to attend. Blizzards were battering central Europe, grounding flights.
“I was dragging my family to missed flights — blizzards in Munich and blizzards in Stockholm, and blizzards near Are.”
When Nyman arrived with his wife and daughter, he had been traveling for more than 30 hours straight, and was exhausted.
His skiing showed it.
“I was like ‘Wow, I’m really bad right now,” he remembers thinking during a training run.
He said his Super G competition was going well until he made “a big mistake” and lost nearly a full second, which ended up costing him the race. In the end, he was happy with his eighth-place finish in that event, but not with the rest of the competition.
“The rest of the World Champs was a junk show,” he said. “The downhill was a full-on blizzard. I started 20th and when I ran there was three inches of snow on the track, which is super-unfair compared to the guys who ran earlier.”
Nyman took 23rd overall.
He said visibility was “horrible,” adding that there “shouldn’t have been a race that day.”
After the World Championships, he finished his downhill season with a seventh-place finish in Kvitfjell, Norway, and a 16th at Grandvalira Soldeu, in Andorra.
He said he finished the last two races with shin pain.
Relaxing at his home in Jackson, Wyoming, with his daughter, who is not yet 2, he said he was just happy to have made it through the season.
“Overall I’m happy with it,” he said. “I exceeded my expectations, and I’m happy to put forth that effort toward next year and see what I can do starting in a much more favorable position — not having to rehab, not having to go through that process again which I did two years in a row, just to have a consistent physical training summer, get my knee into a place where there’s no pain and see what I’m capable of.”
He said his technique is more instinctual than it’s ever been. The trial, Nyman said, will be keeping his confidence high so next winter, when the time comes, he can build on what he achieved in his first season back.
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