A Q & A with Steve Nyman - Ski Mag

A Q & A with Steve Nyman

Steve Nyman

There aren't many men out there who can make Hollywood icon Robert Redford green with envy. Redford's theatrical genius and rugged good looks, not to mention his impeccable good-guy image, puts him at the top of the jealousy food chain.

While US Ski Team racer Steven Nyman may have started out mowing Redford's Sundance, UT lawn, he eventually became the real downhill racer to Redford's pretend version — word has it that the actor gets excited whenever there's a Nyman sighting at Sundance.

But while ticket sales may be considerably smaller at the Beaver Creek Birds of Prey downhill, Nyman, who collected his first world cup victory last year in Val Gardena is fast developing a following of his own. Although he's not so sure he likes it. His homegrown golden-boy goodness is contagious. Oh, and those rugged good looks? Yup…

SkiNet:Ok, let's just get it all out of the way: Where are you from, where did you grow up, what's your favorite color, blah blah blah…
Steven Nyman: I'm Steven Nyman, from Provo, UT, started in Sundance, moved from Sundance to Park City race team when I was 16. When I was 20, I made the US Ski Team. Started skiing when I was two. I'm an Aquarius — Feb 12, 1982. And I like Orange.

SkiNet: What's the question You're most sick of being asked?
Nyman: "How many" of something…How fast are you going?

SkiNet: How about this one — Have you met Robert Redford yet?
Nyman: I think I cleared that one up actually. That's all they had in the Italian newspapers after I won in Val Gardena last year. A picture of me and Robert Redford.

SkiNet: Is he trying to hitch his wagon to your star yet?
Nyman: He's actually been pretty low key about it but he was pretty excited about it when I went skiing at Sundance last year. I guess he was walking around like "right on! Steven's here!" that's what the manager was telling me.

SkiNet: I heard one of your jobs growing up was mowing Robert Redford's lawn. Was he ever there?
Nyman: I saw him a couple of times. I'd trim at Bob Land and do his petunias every week. I only mowed the edges of his lawn, two lawnmowers deep and it took me all day. He had lots of trees so it was just circling and circling trees. He had a baseball field, swimming pool, tennis courts. It's the real deal up there.

SkiNet: Let's talk about something else then. You appear to be a laid back guy. You're barefoot right now, as a matter of fact. Is there ever any time when you're stressed out or nervous?
Nyman: I grew up in the mountains. It was me and my brothers and we just had each other. We played. There were two other families up there and we'd run around outside, damming up the river, doing what mountain kids do. Freaking ourselves out at night when there were cougars running around. I'd consider my Mom quite hippie-ish. She never wears shoes and we'd landscape and always be out in the garden getting dirt in our fingers. I think my Mom was a great example of that, just because she cooked so well and she would grow a lot of our own food when she could, and she would always make do with the meats we had. It was very cool and a great example for us.

SkiNet: Is there something nobody ever asks you that you wish they would?
Nyman: I'm not one who desires fame. It's nice to be out there, but I'm not like, "Look at me! Look at me!" I definitely have people who are stalking me, and it's really scary. I don't want any more, and there definitely will be more.

SkiNet: Anyone in the States? Or just in Europe?
Nyman: A European living in the States. "It's meant to be," according to her.

SkiNet: And you don't feel this way, I'm guessing?
Nyman: No. To answer your earlier question about what I want people to ask: I'd rather be asked deeper questions, something that provokes more thout, I guess; because I'm just talking about ski racing all day.

SkiNet: Ok, I was about to ask something really deep anyway…You have a very wise way about you - what do you feel you have to teach people?
Nyman: I like the saying, 'The grass is greener where you water it.' It's like saying, 'Make do with what you have.' Appreciate what's around you, and build from that. More will come if that's what you desire. I think if you emit a positive attitude, positive things will come back to you. I don't like to put a lot of stress on myself for ski racing; it means a lot to me but not the world to me.

SkiNet: Is there is such a thing as perfection on the ski hill? What would it feel like to you?
Nyman: Perfection is impossible, and you have to just live with that. The perfect day to me would be to just have a vision. To see where you need to go. To see what you need to do on every turn of the course and be totally confident in that. Then go and try and do it. That's your only focus -- just your movements. Your 'self.' Just focus on your self. Why focus on anything else? Why focus on what everybody else is doing, what everyone else is saying around you? It's an individual sport; it's just you against the mountain. There's really no other element. It's so cool to do something like that. To have such clarity of mind when you step into the gate and when you are going down the course, and you're like, 'Oh, here's this turn, here's that turn.' That's the zone, that 'slow motion' that people talk about in a sport that involves such speed and such precision. Just to feel that. Even if it lasts 10 turns and you're in the fence. That's the feeling I seek. And when I get that done usually good things happen.


SkiNet: What about fear? Is that something that motivates you?
Nyman: I think fear makes you just aware. You just open up. When you're scared, at least for me, it's survival. That's when amazing things start happening. You're just like holy cow, how did I pull that off? When you crash, when you're on your side sliding down the hill or you lose your ski and you've got to recover from this thing…that's when I'm scared that's when I'm like "alright, here comes the natural ability" that's what freaks me out. It's not standing at the top of the course. The only time I've ever been scared doing that is Kitzbuehel. But after I ran it once it was ok and I was feeling more comfortable. I haven't seen it in two years so I'll probably freak out again. I've only run down it twice, so…

SkiNet: You've mentioned that the Overall title is a goal for you, but on a more internal level, what are you still striving for?
Nyman: It's a step by step process that you've got to go through. I don't think anyone has just burst on the scene and won an overall title. You've got to win races, you've got to win discipline titles, and be on the podium in multiple disciplines. There's these steps and you've got to go through it mentally. Last year, I was skiing well, a lot of these guys ski well. Everybody rips.

SkiNet: Is there someone that excites you the most to have around? To watch?
Nyman: Eric Fisher is like a hawk going down the hill. He's just nasty, he lays it down so aggressively. Andrew Weibrecht is so powerful, he's just so quick. They do these things on their skis that are just nuts.

SkiNet: How much of that is natural ability, and how much is the new gear, do you think?
Nyman: They're only 2 or 3 years younger than me but almost their entire lives they've been on shaped skis, so they have a greater natural ability on them. It's so cool to watch them and learn from them. The old guys learn from them. Hopefully they learn from us in other ways.

SkiNet: What are you looking forward to the most this season?
Nyman: I want to race Chamonix again. I love that hill. My first year on the world cup I thought I was going to win there. That was the first place I could see what I needed to do to win. I could see it, feel it, like I knew it was going to happen.

SkiNet: And?
Nyman: They cancelled the race. Too much fog. I've just been so hungry for it. So we'll see.

. My first year on the world cup I thought I was going to win there. That was the first place I could see what I needed to do to win. I could see it, feel it, like I knew it was going to happen.

SkiNet: And?
Nyman: They cancelled the race. Too much fog. I've just been so hungry for it. So we'll see.



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