Steven Nyman, shown here at the Garmisch-Partenkirchen World Cup, has one rule when making picks on FantasySkiRacer.com: If you're racing and you're not picking yourself, you shouldn't be racing. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)
What do Lindsey Vonn and Albert Pujols have in common? Aside from reaching the pinnacle of their respective sports thrice—Pujols as a World Series competitor, Vonn as the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup overall champ—not much. That is, until you factor in fantasy baseball and FantasySkiRacer.com, where both are perennial #1 picks.
Still, this wouldn't be so without Steven Nyman, an alpine World Cup winner and longtime participant in Fantasy sports, whose desire to create more excitement for ski racing fans has found its perfect counterpart in the growing online fantasy sports community. The result: FantasySkiRacer.com, where you pick the races.
"I want to connect the fans with the racers," said Nyman. "And have them learn more about each race and learn more about each track."
Nyman hatched FantasySkiRacer.com with his brother Michael and teammate Nolan Kasper in November 2010 and, with the help of friend Pete Rugh of RughsterDesign.com, assembled the website where fans (and racers) now compete virtually on the World Cup circuit. Players pick the top 10 finishers of each race and are awarded points based on how accurately a player predicts their racers' outcomes. And though picks like Vonn, Mancuso, Miller, and Ligety are commonplace, picking a teammate like 16-year old Mikaela Shiffrin, who notched her first World Cup top-10 in November and then her first podium in December, speaks to the educational side of FSR.
"Mikaela's been good for me this year," said Nyman. "I had her in third when she got her first podium…And each track is different, and you can move your picks according to each track. You have to learn what the conditions are."
At the end of the season, the top three places overall win a Fischer ski package, a POC helmet and goggle package, and a Dragon Wax ski package, while the winner of each weekend takes home SkullCandy headphones. Nyman is also quick to note that you can join at any point, since your score is calculated as a points average of your picks. And he's beginning a "Mega-League" for USSA members only, one that starts with World Cup Finals in Schladming, Austria of this year and will feature a $500 giveaway each weekend, beginning in Austria, that will continue into next season.
"The main thing we want to do is educate people on ski racing and integrate them more with the ski industry," he said. "In any athletics these days, there's a huge separation between the athletes and the fans…I think this is a good way to connect with the fans. We want to create that camaraderie with people following their favorite ski racers. Hopefully it'll grow the fan base. Hopefully they learn more about the sport."
FantasySkiRacer already has 4,000 users, 90 percent of whom hail from North America.
"We want to have it so you can do a lot of research and follow them more, not just from America but from all over the world. Ski racing is big in Europe so I think the game could take off over there. We want to make it a world-wide game."
Teammate Colby Granstrom is currently the overall leader, and there's an unwritten law among U.S. Ski Teamers requiring you to pick yourself. As Nyman says:
"If you're racing and you're not picking yourself to win, you shouldn't be racing."
To start making your picks, sign up at FantasySkiRacer.com and sharpen your edges. USSA Members can send their user name and member number to email@example.com to join the USSA Mega-League.