No lesson learned, he now puts his computer in danger of the same wet end. It’s worth it,
he figures. Like Bode, Nickerson measures risk by his own scale.
The man is seriously happy his vessel is launched. The smile is huge as he slaps the new
bar-top with both hands. “It is SO good to be on the water again,” he says.
He plugs in the music. “Euro-beats, they’ll be coming soon,” he says. “I spent a lot of time
in Sweden lately, so Swedish House Mafia will definitely be on the playlist.”
After a pause as he scans the horizon, he adds: “It’s fun to actually get fired up on something else besides skiing. Really focused on one thing and see it until it’s done. ... We’re not
sinking yet, so that’s a good thing. ... That’s a surprise actually. When it fell off that retaining
wall I thought for sure there’d be some big holes.”
Winter damage to the 86’er included a wind-induced flight over a six-foot drop to a landing
on concrete. Creative work included the adding of a third pontoon to help with the buoyancy
required to keep a party up out of the water. He had basically pulled an all-nighter trying to
meet his deadline. Tenacious guy.
Now 30, Nickerson is not a racer the U.S. Ski Team would prefer to put its resources toward. Younger skiers produce higher potential yield investment. “On Facebook I’m an ‘87,”
he says with his characteristic smile, indicating a fictitious birth year. “I keep telling [head
men’s coach] Sasha [Rearick] that, but he doesn’t think it changes anything.”
What did change things was his racing last season, which seemed to run hot at just the
Nickerson is a “teammate” of freeskier Jon Olsson (Team No Team, or TNT) who took
a bet that he could also make it as an alpine racer. The two have both tested out Dodge
boots, a very small producer of carbon fiber boots that many would consider experimental
(Nickerson still wears them). When Olsson headed to New Zealand for training in summer
2010, Nickerson tagged along, “kind of as his tech,” he says.
But who could resist making some turns? And as it turned out Nickerson was skiing well
and scored a pair of six-point races, single digits being good. “So, whoa,” he says. “I’m back
in the game.”
He went to the Aspen NorAms and was, he says, “awful, just terrible,” but was entered in
the World Cup GS at Beaver Creek and scored Cup points. From there he was off and running for a full season of World Cup and Europa Cup action across the big pond. With few
guarantees he bought a one-way ticket.
“Last year was all about no goals, no expectations, just go and have fun and that’s what
I did all season, and had, for sure, the best results of my career,” Nickerson says after we
pull down the umbrella and give the 86’er a sea-trial speed test. “You know, just pushing
out of the gate, you’re not really part of it. Getting second runs, you’re a part of it. So it was
really great to be part of it.”
At Hinterstoder, Austria, in the last chance to make it onto the World Championship team,
Nickerson not only got a second run, but also scored again, cementing his start at the Gar-
misch World Championships. And that was how he ended up in the right place, at the right
time, to have Ligety on his shoulders.
He was able to train with the team, and at times had a team vehicle, since his program
didn’t match much of anyone else’s. “Frankly, it was like I was part of the ski team all sea-
son, from Beaver Creek on,” he says, adding that at Worlds, Rearick agreed the team
would pick up some of his hotel bills and other expenses. “When you’re going to World
Champs you hope some of that stuff is taken care of.”
The Gumball thing? That was all Olsson, who pulled in Bode. Nickerson didn’t arrive until
Who needs the U.S. Ski
Team when you’ve got a
yacht like this?
Venice, near the end of the rally route. “Venice to Belgrad, Serbia and then to Istanbul, Tur-
key,” Nickerson recalls. “And then we drove the car all the way from there to Norway, which
was a pretty bad plan. We were fired up to ski, but couldn’t for two days because we hadn’t
The backseat laughing, he said was hard to avoid. Entering Belgrade a group of Gumball
cars opened their throttles. “We had no chance to keep up with them,” recalls Nickerson.
“Bode was pretty mad at [Olsson]. I’m just sitting in the back laughing the whole way. I
mean, it had snow tires on it. It gets pretty hot. At 220 [kilometers per hour], they start to
melt a little. And we’re going 270, so as you can imagine they were melting; classic under-
steering. And it had a roof rack, mind you. We were ready for that thing to just blow right
SkiRacing.com OCTOBER 31, 2011 | 30