Welcome to the quirky world of skier Steven Nyman

BY foxsports • December 10, 2009

Ask Steven Nyman about skiing, and he'll tell you about life. That's Nyman being Nyman, a hippie at heart who readily admits he should've been born in the '60s. The U.S. downhill skier is perpetually searching for the "inner-peace vibe," and he's always ready with a quip, an intuitive musing. Like this one, when asked what's in store for the 27-year-old from Provo, Utah, once his skiing days are done: "The future holds what the future holds. I'm a guy who kind of flies by the seat of his pants. I don't like making plans. I see something, and I go after it." Right now, that's a spot on the team bound for the Vancouver Games. But it won't be easy: The U.S. downhill team is stacked, and Nyman is still working his way back from surgery in August on both knees. In this case, his easygoing nature works in his favor. He's not stressing about the situation, fretting over knees that are still tender and taking time to round back into shape. He had a disappointing performance at Beaver Creek last weekend, finishing 31st in the downhill. This on a course that's typically been good to him, taking third in '06 and second the following season. "A bummer," he said after his run. With a shrug, he transformed back into his forward-thinking self. "It's all a confidence-building thing, it's all mileage, time on skis and just getting things rolling," said Nyman, who's currently in Lake Louise, Alberta, to squeeze in extra races on the NorAm circuit, before rejoining the World Cup in Europe next week. "The more miles under my feet, the better I feel." Nyman likes to think of himself as water, constantly flowing along, molding and adapting to each situation. His skiing follows a similar pattern. "Nyman is a tremendous freeskier, a feeler - feels the mountain, feels the snow," U.S. Ski Team men's coach Sasha Rearick said. "He competes very well on big-event days." His knee surgeries are just a tiny ripple in the stream, another challenge as he tries to make his second Olympic squad. "You control what you can control and hope for the best," said Nyman, who tied for 19th in the downhill at the Turin Games in 2006. "That's kind of what I've learned and roll through in life with." Welcome to "Planet Provo." Population: Nyman. He was given that nickname by his teammates for sometimes orbiting in his own little universe. Nyman's always attempting to find harmony within - an "inner-peace vibe," as he likes to describe it. So, what exactly does that mean? "You feel the balance, the need, and you go after it," he explained. "It's hard to describe the inner-peace vibe." Want to see his eyes light up? Mention his vegetable garden. He's developed quite the green thumb, growing bell peppers, jalapenos, butternut squash, zucchini, carrots and string beans, to name a few. He spent hours tilling and nurturing that garden last summer. It's his baby, his escape. But if you want to know what's going on at "Planet Provo" check his Web site - "Nyman's World" - where he posts videos (his "moonwalk" footage in a Calgary airport), pictures (a nasty road rash he received after a spill on his bicycle) and predictions (picking Ted Ligety to win in Soelden, Austria, in October - Ligety finished second). There was a time when Nyman was the up-and-comer on the World Cup circuit, especially after winning the downhill in Val Gardena, Italy, in 2006. Then injuries veered him off course. Nearly two years ago at Kitzbuehel, his back stiffened after hitting a rut. That's when an MRI revealed a disk bulging out to the side, pinching off the nerve. He had to wear a custom-fitted cast for six weeks. Last January, it was a badly bruised shin, the result of crashing into a gate during the downhill in Wengen, Switzerland. That one lingered, the pain shifting to his knee. But doctors couldn't locate the source on an MRI. Bone bruising was the common thought. His knee constantly ached, though. So much so that he couldn't even kite surf, one of his favorite summertime activities. Finally, doctors discovered inflamed plica, a layer of tissue around the knee. While they were operating on one, Nyman figured, why not do the other as well? "It's good to clean out the old wheels," Nyman said. "Everybody's got their scars." With that in mind, why exactly does he keep clicking back into those skis and rocketing down the slopes at harrowing speeds? He pondered that thought for a second as he settled deeper into his chair. "It's accomplishing that goal, setting out and seeing what you need to do and scaring the (heck) out of yourself doing it," Nyman explained. "You're like, 'All right, I know I can handle this.' You convince yourself of it. Once you step back and look at it logically you're like, 'I'm nuts."' --- On the Net: http://www.nymansworld.com

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