Nik Seemann wraps up first U.S. Ski Team year
Special to the Sky-Hi News
Middle Park High School graduate, Nik Seemann, has just finished up his first season as a member of the U.S. Freestyle Aerial Ski Team, and so far, it’s been quite a ride. A quadruple-twisting triple backflip (AKA “The Daddy”) helped shoot the teenager into the national spotlight with first place in the 2015 Junior National Aerial Championships (he also won 1st place in 2014), which earned him a spot on the U.S. Ski Team. Seemann is now on the World Cup Tour – the big leagues – which means the golden opportunity to travel, compete against the best jumpers in the world, and possibly qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. He has also been invited to be back on the World Cup Tour for next season, 2016-17.
He now lives in Park City, Utah, where he is doing dryland training with the team and attending the University of Utah part-time. He is the middle son of Winter Park residents Sue and Chris “SeeDog” Seemann. Chris is a former Olympic aerialist who coaches for the U.S. Ski Team. (Nik’s latest nickname among the jumping crowd is “SeePup.”)
Nik was in Winter Park enjoying the lack of crowds in his hometown and home ski area last weekend.
World Cup Play-by-Play
Nik’s first World Cup event was held in Deer Valley, Utah, where he placed 15th and 21st. Then he hopped on a plane to Moscow, Russia, where things did not go perfectly due to snow conditions and a head cold. He saw Red Square and St. Basil’s Cathedral while skateboarding around to the shock of most Russians. Nik and some of his teammates had just enough room in their carry-on luggage for mini skateboards, and that helped them kill time and burn off energy in the airports.
“I didn’t see the sun for a week. People walk around looking at the ground … not that stoked,” he said on Moscow. “The 150-foot jump was located in the middle of the city on a huge scaffolding site. The snow was like ball bearings of ice with 35 mph winds. I was about to go off this massive jump, and I was sick, too!” adding, “Well, I’m alive to tell the tale.”
Next stop was in Raubichi, Belarus, near Minsk, where the final World Cup event was held. There was supposed to be a third World Cup event at Sierra Nevada, Spain, but it was cancelled due to lack of snow. Nik shined at Belarus, bringing his world ranking to 31st. In the U.S., he is ranked 5th, but to put in perspective how difficult it will be for Nik to actually go to the Olympics, the U.S. team has been ranked second in the world two years in a row. Nik knows he still has a long way to go. “I’m still at the beginning stages … the work starts here.”
To cap off a successful season, Nik took first and second at the double-header NorAm Finals March 6 in Park City, and took silver on March 20 in the U.S. Freestyle National Championships in Steamboat Springs.
Are Extreme Athletes Fearless?
“I can’t say I’ve never had fear, but when I’m skiing or jumping, it doesn’t even cross my mind. I know I’m doing some gnarly stuff, and I just have to get in the mindset, get an adrenaline rush going, and just send it. Some days I feel better than other days, but I pull myself together and focus, and just get it done.”
Have You Been Injured?
“I’ve been fortunate to have stayed pretty healthy. I’ve had some back problems, but I’m lucky. I’m doing well. But I have a lot of friends and teammates who are dealing with torn shoulders and torn knees. It’s tough. I try to take care of my body, and I think I do a good job of that.”
“The jump is 14 feet high at the lip, and you’re landing from a jump that is close to 50 feet at its height. The angle of the (take off) ramp is 72 degrees, so you’re going pretty big. Those kind of forces can take a toll on your body if you don’t land it right.”
What Are You Working on Now?
“The Hurricane has only been done by (the late) Jared ‘Speedy’ Peterson. He was one of my ski idols growing up. I watched him do The Hurricane, and I thought Holy Cow! That’s the gnarliest trick I’ve ever seen!”
The Hurricane is a triple-backflip with five full twists (like the Tasmanian Devil if he could do triple backflips off a ski jump). “I’m at that level now where I want to do it.”
It might take a trick like that to win gold, and the SeePup just may have the goods to go after the big dogs.
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