Summer Side Projects: SUP with Steven NymanTweet
Editor’s note: This is the first installment of “Summer Side Projects,” a series of articles that follows elite USSA athletes and their offseason endeavors. Check back with SkiRacing.com for more throughout the summer.
VAIL, Colo. — Twice a podium finisher at the Birds of Prey downhill in Beaver Creek, Steven Nyman knows a thing or two about dealing with the nerves of competition. But lining up to race the SUP Surf Sprint at the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail on Saturday, he was shaking in his booties.
“I’m always nervous at the top of a downhill, but I was just as nervous at the start here,” said Nyman after the race. “My knees were weak; my stomach was a little messed up. … Man, why am I feeling this way? I’m not a favorite; this isn’t my sport. But I enjoyed it, the thrill of competition, the thrill of pushing yourself. … I wanted to give it my best. I had a few falls, but I paddled pretty hard. I was pretty psyched.”
Nyman got involved in the sport of stand up paddleboarding (SUP) in the summer of 2006 while training in Hawaii. He bought a board and paddled out into the ocean. But when he relocated back to Utah a couple years later, the lakes and reservoirs didn’t provide enough of a challenge, so he took to the river.
“I was messing around in the river a little bit and I met Ken Hoeve, the local weatherman here in Vail, and he said, ‘You’ve got to come out to these races and run the rivers.’ … He called me out here this year, and he’s my main competition.”
Nyman finished the semiprofessional three-mile downriver sprint 12th out of 41 competitors. Hoeve, for the record, was fifth.
Nyman, who drove in from Utah the day before the race, didn’t have a chance to run the Gore Creek before the contest, but he did manage to pay his respect to the Birds of Prey course as he was cruising through Avon.
“It’s exciting to have the 2015 World Championships coming up,” Nyman said. “To race the World Champs on your home turf, the closest thing I’ve done is the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. … Always, whenever I drive by Beaver Creek, I snap a photo. That’s my baby. I want to get a win there.”
The winner of the 2012 downhill in Val Gardena said he’s feeling strong this offseason, especially with the addition of men’s speed team trainer Tony Beretzki, who worked with Hermann Maier, Stephan Eberharter and the rest of the Austrian team in its prime.
“It’s been really awesome this summer,” Nyman said. “We’ve always come into the year fit, but we kind of lose it through the season. (Beretzki) will be with us all year long, maintaining our fitness. I already feel great, in really good shape, and I’m working really hard. We’ll see what the winter has in store. I think we’ll be pretty well off.”
Story and Photos by Geoff Mintz