COVID-19 was sweeping across Europe. The ski racing world was in a foggy layer of uncertainty. And the President/CEO of the US Ski and Snowboard Association, Tiger Shaw, was faced with a difficult question: to race, or not to race?
With little time to react, he gathered the US Ski Team on a conference call and explained they wouldn’t be racing at the World Cup Finals in Cortina, Italy. But Steven Nyman, the speed specialist from Utah, was of a different opinion.
“I was very against his decision,” says Nyman. “The Italian government hadn’t made a call yet, the series wasn’t canceled yet, and I just thought, ‘No, you can’t do this. This is our livelihood and we’re going to go anyway.’ Cortina put a lot of effort into the event and, traditionally, the Americans have skied really well on the Italian snow.”
The debate quickly settled itself when Finals were, indeed, canceled. So, the Americans started packing and Nyman came to terms with the reality at hand.
“I ended up sending Tiger a message saying, ‘Good job, props to you, sorry I was such a turd on the phone call, but I hope you understand,’” says Nyman. “Tiger did a good job being prepared for this and getting us home safe.”
Home safe means hunkering down in Park City for Nyman. But he’s not safe from the rule of his two-and-a-half-year-old, Nell, who has designed a rigid schedule that involves roughly a billion play sessions per day. When that schedule isn’t met, she requests payment in the form of jelly beans—her latest culinary discovery.
“It’s quite nice that she has that innocence right now,” says Nyman. “She keeps us from getting caught in the news cycle.”
We caught up with Nyman to see what else is happening in his world as his family navigates this strange, jelly-bean-filled time. Here’s what he had to say.
What’s your living situation like right now?
My wife is on conference calls every day so I’m in full dad-mode—juggling Nell, going on hikes with her, running, and pushing her in the stroller. My Mother in law is here, too. She was in Sun Valley and we didn’t want her there because it was a hot spot, so she moved in. She’s been helping us out a lot.
How’s Park City looking?
It was hit early on because it’s a travel destination but everything seems to be getting better now. What’s hit the most is the tourism economy. The same-day flights from New York into Utah, for example, aren’t happening, so that’s tough. What I enjoy about Park City right now, though, is that it actually feels a bit like Europe because a lot of people are walking, biking, and spending less time in cars. But don’t get me wrong, it’s very weird here right now.
The local ski resorts shut down quickly, right?
Yeah, I commend the entire US ski scene on that. US resorts shut down at the same time European ones did, and they obviously didn’t want to get into the same pickle that Italy, France, Austria, and some other skiing countries were in. It was a mess in those ski towns, but we did a good job here of shutting things down.
Have you been ski-touring at all?
A few times, but I’m not getting extreme in any way. It’s right out my back door and I do it just to get my heart going and keep up the endurance work I need during this time. But I’m not promoting it. I don’t want people to see it or feel jealous if they’re cooped up. It’s not something that I can say, ‘Oh, it’s my job’ about, so I do it as privately as possible.
What else is happening back on the homefront, other than chasing Nell?
Well, we moved into a new home last October but I barely got to stay there because I left for the season so it’s been fun to get things dialed, organize all our crap, and work on the yard. I’ve been shoveling snow out of the yard and I’ll throw it back up onto the roof so that it melts a little quicker, so I’m getting workouts in weird ways like that outside of the gym. Other than that, I’ve always loved cooking so it’s nice right now to have so much time to cook.
Alright. Some rapid-fire questions here… What do you find yourself eating all the time during these quarantine days?
Nuts. Lots of nuts.
What are you drinking all the time?
Tons and tons of water. I’m not drinking anything but water.
Nothing but emails and kids’ books. Hansel and Gretel and the Dinky Donkey.
When the pandemic is eventually over, what’s a lesson you’ll take away?
The importance of communication and patience. With my wife and her job, and me kind of running the house, it’s been hugely important to communicate what we’re doing and how we’re feeling all the time.