Steve Nyman wraps up his long racing career this weekend
With one of the longest tenures in US Ski Team history, 41-year-old Steven Nyman is hanging up his professional ski racing career after competing in the final downhill of the World Cup season this weekend.
As a child, Steven Nyman began ski racing at Sundance Resort before moving to the Park City Ski Team. Today, he calls Park City home.
He was a discretionary pick for the 2002 Junior World Ski Championships when he won gold in slalom and then took silver in the combined race (two runs of slalom and another of downhill) the next day. He was named to the US Alpine Ski Team in 2004 and will retire following the final World Cup downhill in Aspen on Saturday.
He said his final World Cup season wasn’t the one he had imagined. He's been nursing a broken hand that he shattered in the Beaver Creek downhill last November.
“My hand was turned to Rice Krispies,” Nyman said. “They had all these pins through it and putting pressure through the hand really sucked. And so I tried but I just couldn't do it. But I could powder ski and I could enjoy the winter, which is really nice. And basically, I got to this point and it was like, I can't. I tried getting back on powerful skis a few weeks ago and was just like, wow, I'm not even at the point. I'm not even close to being able to ski on the World Cup right now. So, I'm fine with it. I've done a lot in my career. I'm really happy with everything I've accomplished and I'm happy with the way it all ended.”
And at 41, it’s probably time to retire; there aren’t many ski racers who make it that long, especially given his injures over the years, including two ruptured Achilles and injuries to both knees – one that forced him to miss the 2018 Olympics.
“I kept going because I love it,” Nyman said. “I absolutely love it. I love the challenge. I love standing on top of an icy slope and knowing how I prepared, knowing what's in front of me, what I want to try and accomplish in front of me, I should say, and seeing if I can do that. I love the process. I love the challenge. And I'll miss it but I've done a lot of it and it's a very risky sport and you're very exposed and I've also been hurt a ton.”
He has also been plagued by intermittent back pain since last spring.
“I was skiing very fast actually. In summer training, I was beating a lot of the young guys. I was really happy with what I was feeling and how I was moving. And then my back went out in August. It actually went out in April in Norway. Then it went out in August in Chile. And then it went out just a week before the season in Copper Mountain. And that was really frustrating. I thought I was in a good place. But obviously something was wrong. Maybe it's the reality that I'm 41. I'm not the ageless one that I thought I was.”
Nyman is proud of his career, winning three World Cup downhills and competing in three Olympics and five World Championships. He’s enjoyed being a mentor to his younger teammates and trying to keep them from making the same “dumb mistakes” he made as a younger racer.
As for what’s next, he said he has learned a lot through ski racing and thinks he has more to offer to the sport with product development and health and fitness coaching. But for now, it’s more powder skiing and spending time with his two young daughters. Ski racing, he said, is a very selfish endeavor and it’s time now to focus on his family.