Ski champ chats with kids
VAIL Steve Nyman went from being a nobody in the ski racing circuit to winning the Junior World’s slalom championship in 2002. Things were looking good for the up-and-coming skier, and he was looking forward to becoming an even stronger athlete when he broke his leg skateboarding. The next year, Nyman, now 24, broke his leg again. He tried different doctors and different treatments, but nothing seemed to cure the pain.”I could do two or three runs, and that was it. It hurt so bad,” said the Utah native. “Skiing just wasn’t fun anymore.”Stumbling upon a chiropractor with almost magical abilities may have saved his leg and his career, Nyman said.”I kept searching and searching and never gave up,” he said. “And this guy helped me so much. He made me realize that my body is my investment, and I need to take care of it.”From there, Nyman’s skiing has only gotten stronger. Nyman visited the Vail Mountain School in East Vail on Friday to share with high school student his experiences and the lessons he’s learned. May of the students who attended are on the school’s ski teams. Nyman was just one of the speakers the school has hosted as part of its “brown bag lunch lecture series.”The small lecture hall filled up with the smells of Friday’s cafeteria offerings – grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. A roomful of eating teenagers wore on Nyman who admitted, “You guys are making me hungry.”The story of his injury helped illustrate Nyman’s message of perseverance during the 20-minute lecture that covered his beginnings in Sundance, Utah and beginnings as a ski racer. “I wanted to come and hear about how he got to be on the U.S. ski team,” said Jens Kjesbo, 16, who is on the school’s alpine ski team. “It was really cool. I learned about pushing yourself. It’s a lot more motivating to hear it from someone like him.”Nyman drove home the message that medals and winning isn’t what motivates him.”It’s about the journey,” he said. “I ski for the love of the sport. Every day, I feel like it’s a discovery session for me.”Nyman is still at the beginning of his public speaking career and confessed he doesn’t love having an audience. But his desire to share his knowledge overcomes his stage fright. Ellen Foster, who has two children at Vail Mountain, has known Nyman since he was a boy and convinced him to speak to the students. “He just reinforces what kids have learned,” she said. “They get the benefit of the perspective of a world-class athlete.”Even Nyman’s occasional stammering appeared to endear him to the youngsters. “It was enlightening,” said 17-year-old Blake Armstrong, who telemarks for Vail Mountain School. “Any chance to get in touch with our skiing culture, we grab. He told us about what it takes to be a champion on and off the mountain.”
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