Steven Nyman unsure on World Cup downhill opener in Lake Louise
FRISCO — Steven Nyman isn’t quite sure where he is in terms of his fitness and comfortably as a downhill ski racer.
But one thing he does know for certain is he has a plane ticket booked to take him up to Canada — where the start of the speed season for World Cup ski racers this week will begin — should he decide he’s ready.
As of last week, Lake Louise would have to be a game-time decision, Nyman said from Copper Mountain after taking a few training runs at the U.S. Ski Team speed center.
“I may pull the plug,” Nyman said of heading up to Canada this week. “I may stay here because I’ll get more miles on skis. But also, I’m missing out on those race day environment type scenarios, so I don’t know. I have a lot of questions.”
Nyman said the coaches and trainers on the U.S. Ski Team have left his options open.
“Basically they’re saying be as flexible as you want,” Nyman said. “Do what you need, and do what’s best for you. And right now, we have it booked for up there, but if you want to stay, stay.”
One of the most productive downhillers on the U.S. team in recent years, Nyman is coming off what started as a great season in 2016-17. He hit the podium in Val Gardena, Italy, in December, and followed that up with a top-10 finish in the world’s most revered downhill race, the Hahnenkamm in Kitzbuhel, Austria, in January.
A few weeks later, however, he would suffer the most devastating injury of his career in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, when he crashed and tore three different ligaments in his left knee.
“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Nyman said of coming back from the injury. Nyman will turn 36 in February.
“The bright side of things is I had no meniscus damage, I had no cartridge damage,” he said. “So I’m pain free, but the coordination and the power and the strength is just not there. I’ve been doing a lot of stuff in the gym, but it doesn’t translate on the snow, I need a lot of miles on the snow to start getting that stuff back.”
‘NOT THAT COMFORTABLE’
The timing of his return is complicated by the looming deadline of the 2018 Olympics, Nyman said.
“A lot of my injuries have been at the early point in the year, and this was pretty much February,” Nyman said. “Everybody I’ve talked to says you finally start feeling 100 percent about a year out, after the injury.”
Currently skiing in a brace, Nyman was only cleared to hit the course and start running gates a few weeks ago.
“I’m very rusty right now,” he said. “I don’t know a lot of my future — I don’t know if I’ll race Lake Louise, I don’t know if I’ll race Beaver Creek. I’m just getting out on the snow, the speed, the tempo, the timing of everything is just so off. I need to really knock that rust off and just become more comfortable on the hill. For right now, it’s just not that comfortable.”