‘No room for mistakes’: Steamboat’s Jett Seymour navigates his 1st winter on the World Cup circuit
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Jett Seymour is used to success.
He won an individual NCAA slalom title as a University of Denver sophomore in 2019. He was the likely candidate for the title last winter as well, and the Pioneers were nearly on top of the team standings partway through nationals, but the event was canceled due to the pandemic.
Seymour is skiing full time with the U.S. National Team and is seeing his first World Cup action, where he’s still pushing to find the type of success he earned in college.
This is the first winter the Steamboat Springs native is skiing on the World Cup circuit. He’s had nine races since December and earned a second run in one of them.
“It’s going pretty well. It could have definitely gone a little bit better, but I learned a lot and gained a lot of valuable experience,” Seymour said. “I think I exceeded some of my own expectations a little bit. Once I realized what was possible, I wanted a little bit more out of myself. There’s no room for mistakes when you’re racing World Cup.”
The competition at the World Cup level is the highest in the world. Seymour’s most recent race in France featured the silver and bronze medalists in slalom from the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Just hundredths of a second separate Seymour from those skiers, but he has a lot to learn to close that gap.
In his first World Cup appearance in Alta Badia, Italy, in late December, Seymour earned 53rd. The top 30 make the second round, so he was done. In the next two races, he didn’t even complete his first run. In the next three, he finished in the 50s.
He wasn’t surprised or frustrated or let down, at all.
“Some people race their whole career in World Cup and not make a second run,” he said. “Entering the season, I had no expectations, especially in slalom. There’s such a highly competitive field. I was just going out and trying to ski my best and hoping it was going to be good enough. My coaches trusted that eventually the day would come (when I made the second round). They weren’t sure when, but it just happened to be this year.”
On Jan. 26, in Schladming, Austria, Seymour finished the first run in the top 30, earning a second run.
The course was tough. Twenty-five people didn’t complete the first run. Seymour did. Fourteen who completed it didn’t make the cut. Seymour did.
“The first run was honestly not that good, but it was a challenging course set on challenging snow. It was very icy,” Seymour recalled. “It seemed as if some people weren’t quite ready for it. I wasn’t fully confident going into it either, but I skied well enough.”
At 22, Seymour wasn’t the youngest one to qualify for the second round, but he was the youngest one to complete it. He ended up in last place, or 25th, among those who put down a successful second run, but the day was still a huge win for the young skier.
His second run was not the best, a whole 16 seconds slower than the next finisher, but what mattered to Seymour was finishing it.
There is really only one way to take a second run: fast. Determined to see what he could do, the Steamboat skier flew down the hill.
“When you’re going out and trying to go as fast as you can, sometimes mistakes happen,” Seymour said.
Seymour’s mistake was big. He missed two gates but not to the point of disqualification. He hiked back up to get around the gate each time before completing the run.
“I wanted to ski through the finish, especially on my first second run,” Seymour said. “I was excited to just ski the full course. I never really thought that I wouldn’t hike. A lot of people don’t hike, which is just a personal thing. Someone at some point drilled it into my head that you need to hike when you miss a gate.”
So maybe his first second run didn’t go perfectly, but he earned it nonetheless. And he’s determined to earn another.
Perhaps, he’ll get the chance at World Championships, which begin Mondau and conclude with the men’s slalom championship on Feb. 20 and 21.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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