Friday, November 3, 2006

Olympic ski racer offers himself for rent

Steve Nyman uses his head for sponsors


Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images Olympic ski racer Steve Nyman in action.

Olympian and two-time U.S. ski champion Steve Nyman of Provo, Utah is using his head to come up with a sponsor.

"Rent Me," Steve Nyman says imagine your logo on the front of his helmet.

Nyman, who catapulted himself from the C Team to the Olympic Team last season with strong World Cup skiing, was in New York City this week for the annual New York Ski and Snowboard Ball held Thursday night. It is the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team's largest fundraising event.

Nyman hopes that coincides with his effort to discover a sponsor to help his career.

While the New York Ball is a traditional fundraiser, Nyman is taking a non-traditional route in quest of a sponsor.

He is auctioning himself to someone or some company willing to sponsor him. To help find that potential donor, he's using a headgear bidding auction on eBay.

Nyman laughs and jokes easily, but he is also deadly serious about unearthing financial support.

The auction, at http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=260043444974, runs until Saturday, Nov. 4, at 6 p.m. ET, 3 p.m. PT.

As he headed into Tuesday's Halloween "trick or treat" atmosphere, the bidding was up to $6,000.

He laughed, "Yeah, there's a little shot in the dark to it, and I'm still figuring out how to make this thing work. But it seems to be going well. The cool thing is it usually gets good hits in the first two days, which it did in a way, but it has also continued...to $4,000, $5,000...and now up to $6,000.

"In the final two days, these auctions usually heat-up pretty well, too. We'll see."

The auction—in which he is offering donors a chance to place their name on the front of his racing helmet and his ski hats—is not Nyman's first waltz with eBay.

He said, "I've sold some things...um, bikes, clothing—but not Ski Team gear. I clean my room randomly and I'll throw stuff up there. I had a friend, Toby Malina, who [co-] wrote a book, 'Sell It on eBay' and she inspired me. She's gone so far as even selling hole-y [but not holy] socks. Somebody'll buy 'em for a buck...it's fun."

He met Malina at Sundance, Robert Redford's ski resort, where she has a home and where Nyman's father was the ski school director for two decades before retiring in the last year. "It can be stressful, but it's also definitely fun...and she got me going," Nyman said.

Nyman hopes the auction helps make potential donors think about other athletes on the U.S. Ski Team.

"We're all willing to work with our sponsors, not just have 'em write a check—that's nice, sure, but we'll do what we can to help promote 'em in whatever way might work. I'll jump in sewage if some company will pay me...if it will help promote their, um, product.

"The point is most Ski Team athletes need support and we're willing to work for it. Yeah, Fischer [skis] pays me, but there are always bills and we'll be creative, the company can be creative...and it can work for both of us."

A year ago, Nyman—the 2002 junior world slalom champion and the 2003 and 2005 U.S. downhill champion—started the season on the C Team.

However, he produced two top 25s in World Cup races in the first month of the season and was fourth in a downhill in Germany heading into the Olympics where he was 19th in the DH on his 24th birthday.

For more on Nyman, check his website, nymansworld.com, where you can also find a link to the eBay auction.




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