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Skier finds success between slalom gates

A shot of the jitters hit Steve Nyman when he shoved off from the starting gate for his first run in the March 9 World Cup slalom finals in Flachau, Austria.

Steven Nyman of Sundance, Utah, races through a snowstorm during the men's junior division Super G at the U.S. Alpine National Championships on Friday, March 15, 2002, at Squaw Valley Resort near Truckee, Calif. Nyman placed third in Friday's race. (AP Photo/Nathan Bilow)
Steven Nyman of Sundance, Utah, races through a snowstorm during the men's junior division Super G at the U.S. Alpine National Championships on Friday, March 15, 2002, at Squaw Valley Resort near Truckee, Calif. Nyman placed third in Friday's race. (AP Photo/Nathan Bilow) Photo: AP

Steve's 6-foot-4-inch frame towered above most of his competitors — but make no mistake, he was a youngster racing against the sport's giants. Just days earlier the 20-year-old Church member had been competing against fellow junior skiers. Now he was skiing with athletes who had grabbed headlines during the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Games.

"I was pretty nervous," Steve admits.

But his first run anxiety was soon replaced with the same confidence that helped Steve claim the world junior slalom championship a week earlier in Sella Nevea, Italy. The Provo, Utah, native posted the day's sixth fastest time in the second round, finishing 15th in his first-ever World Cup competition.

Waiting at the bottom of the slalom run following his world junior slalom race in Italy was Steve's father, Scott Nyman.

"My dad was very excited, it was great to have him there," said Steve of the Provo Canyon Ward, Provo Utah Edgemont North Stake.

Steve's recent success for Team USA has come as a surprise to some. He was a discretionary choice to compete in the world junior championships. His win in the junior slalom competition earned him a place in the World Cup slalom finals with the big guns.

"Steve's always done well, but he just seemed to be slightly behind the top kids," Scott Nyman said. "Over the past six weeks he's taken a big step forward."

The Nymans are a ski family. Steve was taught by his mother, Becky, a ski instructor at Utah's Sundance ski resort. His father directs Sundance's ski school and Steve's three brothers have all raced competitively.

The sport has demanded that Steve spend much of his time away from his family and fellow Church members. The racing community, says Steve, is known for its fast skiing and fast living. Many of his fellow competitors did not understand much about the Church when he began competing, but now "they respect my standards."

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