Warner Nickerson has always done things a bit differently, but this season he took a page out of Bode Miller’s playbook, albeit on a slightly smaller scale, and bought a 2004 Fiat Ducato camper van which he affectionately named The Mothership. As one can imagine, it’s not exactly one of Bode’s luxury motor coaches.
“After my back injury, I was no longer willing to travels with countless boxes, skis, and tuning equipment in and out of each hotel,” explained Nickerson, who is responsible for tuning all of his own equipment as an independent skier. “So I found the right van in Germany and started converting this vixen to suit my needs.”
Nickerson installed a tuning room as well as a full-sized bed in the back of the rig with a sliding wall that divides the spaces.
“It’s awesome,” said Nickerson, “Now I only have to bring my toothbrush and a small backpack into a hotel room for races.” He spent roughly 60 percent of his nights in The Mothership this winter after flying to Europe in December with a three-inch memory foam topper to place over the 5-inch regular foam mattress that came with the van when he bought it in early October.
With his modified van, Nickerson didn’t pay for a single night of lodging in Europe from Christmas to the end of the season. When he competed in Europa Cup and World Cup races, his lodging was provided at the venue with the U.S. Ski Team free of charge and during his down time spent days in Innsbruck where he stayed in the U.S. Ski Team apartments in Patsch or with his friend, Hans Olsson.
“The bed (in The Mothership) is amazing,” boasted Nickerson. “It’s the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept on in Europe.”
At a Europa Cup in Crans Montana, Switzerland, Nickerson tossed and turned and couldn’t seem to sleep in his hotel room. At midnight, he grabbed his toothbrush and gear and quietly relocated to The Mothership for a quality rest.
“My roommate [Tim] Jitloff was a little surprised when he woke up to find me and all my stuff gone, but it was just too hot and the bed didn’t compare to The Mothership.”
The only thing missing in Nickerson’s van is a bathroom, but he relies on friends and available parking spots near hotels for such amenities.
“I designed the van for my specific needs,” said Nickerson with his characteristic grin. “A bathroom just wasn’t as much of a priority as a ski bench.”
He claims that not having a bathroom wasn’t an issue at all. The Mothership does have a propane heater along with two deep-cycle batteries for powering lights and the water pump. Yes, he spared no expense in installing a sink and running water in the van. But in order to wax and tune skis, he has to plug into 220 volt electricity because of the
power needs of the irons. He even connects his TriOne tuning machine to the recommended vacuum, since safety comes first, which prevents all the unwanted metal particles from contaminating the air in the van.
Nickerson first funded his rolling home away from away with the support of a number of individual sponsors before selling advertising space on the side of the van once the project went over budget.
“I have to admit, it looks a lot better with the stickers,” said Nickerson. “The Mothership was pretty ugly before we put those babies on.”