US skier Nyman learns from near-crashes on Streif

Updated: January 23, 2013, 4:52 PM ET
Associated Press

KITZBUEHEL, Austria -- For Steven Nyman, narrowly avoiding two crashes during World Cup downhill training Wednesday was just another learning experience.

In what the American skier called a "sketchy" run, he nearly got thrown off twice by the icy and bumpy Streif course in Kitzbuehel, Austria. He finished safely, 2.37 seconds behind leader Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway.

On the Steilhang, the steep part after the first jump, "I rode the fence," Nyman said.

"That wasn't cool," he added.

Then on the Hausberg, the turn-filled section before the finish, "I was at my butt."

"I don't know how I didn't crash but I made it," Nyman said.

The 30-year-old Nyman's career has been marred by severe back, knee and Achilles tendon injuries. Finally healthy, he earned his second career downhill victory last month in Val Gardena, Italy.

His physical problems have prevented him from many starts at the Streif, widely regarded as one of the most technically demanding downhill slopes on the men's World Cup circuit. Nyman competed only four times, placing 19th in 2008 for his best result.

Nyman won the race in December in Italy starting 39th when he took advantage of improving weather conditions.

The course in Val Gardena suited him better because of the many gliding sections. The course for Saturday's race requires excellent skiing technique.

"It's about attacking the proper line," Nyman said. "I just need to get over my outside ski. I tend to be a little lazy on my skiing. I need to push hard and drive through the bumps. I don't know what it is, but sometimes the bumps kick me and maybe I relax a little bit too much."

The victory in Val Gardena has helped Nyman in more than one way. Six years after his first win, he got confirmation he was still able to beat the best speed racers in the world.

And more importantly, the victory guaranteed a starting berth for the U.S. downhill team at the Feb. 5-17 world championships in Schladming, Austria.

"It helps my confidence and it's good for my relaxation. ... I am only worrying about my skiing and my execution," Nyman said. "I feel fortunate to have that burden taken off my back."

Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press

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