Seymour could be first Alpine Olympian from Steamboat in years
An alpine skier from Steamboat Springs hasn’t been to the Olympics since Caroline Lalive in 2002. The last time a male alpine skier from Steamboat made the Olympics was Chad Fleischer in 1998.
Jett Seymour could snap that drought this winter.
Seymour, who was raised in Steamboat Springs, is on the U.S. Alpine ‘B’ Team and has a decent shot at making the Olympic team and competing in Beijing.
“I would say it’s very competitive, but I am skiing quite well and I think a couple good results, there’s definitely a high possibility that I can go,” Seymour said. “The ball is in my court basically at this point. I have all the opportunities to go. I just need to capitalize on them.”
Seymour is currently preparing for his second season on the World Cup circuit. Competitions begin in Val d’Isere, France, on Dec. 11 and Seymour has been training in Europe for the past few weeks.
Last year was Seymour’s first winter competing full-time at the World Cup level. At first, he wasn’t sure he belonged at that level, but in mid-January, he earned a result that changed everything.
In Flachau, he was 32nd in the qualifying round of the men’s slalom race, just two spots and 0.03 seconds out of the finals. That was the moment he realized he could in fact compete with the best in the world.
“My coaches have told me that many times,” Seymour said. “You agree with them and say, ‘yeah’ but you don’t necessarily believe it until you actually prove it to yourself. That was pretty cool to learn that and see that it’s actually possible and see that the ceiling for my career is higher than most people ever thought it would be. Realizing that was a pretty cool breakthrough experience.”
The next race, Seymour was 30th in the qualifier and finished 25th in the finals. At the World Ski Championships in Italy in late February, he was 10th in the first run but didn’t complete his second run.
He’s hoping to carry that momentum into this season and fulfill a childhood dream of being an Olympian.
“When I was a little kid, I always wanted to be an Olympian,” he said.
The United States can send a maximum 11 male Alpine athletes. The current International Ski Federation (FIS) quota list has assigned six spots to American men, which is based on recent performances at the World Cup level. The quota list published on Jan. 17 will be the final list.
The Olympic alpine team is decided by a series of criteria, starting with any athlete with a top three World Cup finish. Next, the U.S. Ski Team will select athletes with a top five finish, then a top-10 finish, then Alpine World Cup Points until the quotas are full. All World Cup races between Oct. 23 and Jan. 16, 2022 will be evaluated.
If the team is not full with that process, there are discretionary selection processes as well that allow high-performing athletes who don’t fit the objective criteria to be named to the team.
The men’s Alpine team is extremely competitive, with five men on the ‘A’ team and 11 men on the B team.
Steamboat Springs skier Cooper Puckett is on the development team for the first year and is competing domestically this early winter. In February, the younger Alpine team members are slated to travel to Europe. He’s not likely to make the Olympic team, since he has yet to compete in the World Cup, but he’s excited to be competing during an Olympic cycle nonetheless.
Jay Poulter, who hails from Vermont, but competed for the SSWSC, is also a new member of the development team.
“I just hope to keep climbing up the ladder,” Puckett said. “And keep making big steps toward the World Cup.”
Puckett hopes to one day represent Steamboat Springs at the Winter Olympics, but for now, he’s cheering on Seymour to be the first Alpine skier out of the Yampa Valley in 20 years.
“I think it’s sick,” Puckett said. “I think we have the best club in the country. It’s been a matter of time. It’s really cool to see it starting to materialize with Jett. That’s inspiring, of course, to see someone from the same development path have a lot of success.”
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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