Freestyle skier Ryan Dyer flies above Steamboat Springs on Dec. 19 during the first day of the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team Selections competition. Dyer is just one of several athletes representing Steamboat Springs on the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Freestyle skier Ryan Dyer flies above Steamboat Springs on Dec. 19 during the first day of the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team Selections competition. Dyer is just one of several athletes representing Steamboat Springs on the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team.

Steamboat athletes on US Freestyle Ski Team eye World Cups

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— Ryan Dyer said just one glance at the tape was jaw dropping.

At home in Steamboat Springs early this autumn, Dyer’s father pulled out an old competition tape. It was from only a few seasons ago, when Ryan Dyer, now 20, seemed destined for great things in the freestyle skiing world.

Now, as a skier closer than ever to achieving those great things, a look at that old tape offered tangible proof of what Dyer already was well aware of.

He’s come a long, long way, and as he prepares for what will, to this point, be the biggest season of his career, that’s not lost on him.

“It’s unbelievable,” he said Saturday, just back from one of the training trips that defined his offseason. “It was really amazing to watch those tapes, just to see how far I’ve come. A lot of it has been maturity and a shift in my mind about knowing what I want to do.

“Now I know I have a rare opportunity to try and take this as far as I can, an opportunity not many kids get, and I realize I am going to make the best of it.”

Opportunities await

Dyer and the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team, which he joined in December 2010 thanks to a brilliant home-snow performance at the U.S. Ski Team Selections competition, begin their season next month, and the squad is loaded with Steamboat Springs talent.

Jeremy Cota, who trained with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, and Patrick Deneen, who’s been working with Winter Sports Club coach Timmy Meagher and Eliza Outtrim, have Steamboat connections on the A Team. Dyer, who’s lived in town since he was 10, and Brittany Loweree, who also trains with the club, are on the C Team.

“I will definitely still have nerves when I get into the gate for the first time, but it helps to have a lot of events already under my belt,” said Cota, starting his second full and third partial season on the World Cup circuit. “Having that experience helps so when the moment comes to really put down my best run, I can focus just on that and not on the butterflies in my stomach.”

All five have earned the right to compete in the Dec. 10 moguls World Cup event in Ruka, Finland, and that’s no small feat, especially for Dyer and Loweree, who had to beat out fellow C Team members to be among the four selected to join the A and B teams for the early season World Cup circuit.

“Last year, I had an awesome season. I was super consistent, and I think this year I would like to keep improving and to ski at the top of my ability level,” Cota said. “I definitely made some improvement in my skills. I think I can have my best personal performances now, and if I am capable of that, the results should come.”

Eager to ski

Dyer has his upcoming schedule memorized. Ruka, then Meribel, France, and a trip home for Christmas. He’ll compete in a World Cup in Canada, then Lake Placid, N.Y., then back to Canada and then back to the United States for a Deer Valley, Utah, event.

“Then, if I’m doing really well, I’ll get to keep skiing World Cups,” he said.

Even that guaranteed half-season competing at World Cups was something he couldn’t have expected this time last year, when he set out to give himself one more season to try to make it.

He poured all he had into that summer, and it paid off when he made the team. Summer 2011 may have been even more intense, with training trips to Mount Hood in Oregon and to Switzerland and daily trips to the water ramp at Steamboat’s Bald Eagle Lake anytime he was in town.

He got back in town late Friday night after a week of training at Wolf Creek in the southern corner of Colorado.

Setting new goals

The kid tearing down the run on that tape, Dyer from a couple seasons ago, didn’t have a clue what was in store.

“Going into last season, I wasn’t even really sure. I thought if I didn’t do well, I might just quit and go on to something else,” he said. “Now, coming into this season, I have a whole new perception of the sport and what I want to do in it. I feel like a new skier.”

His new mantra: Get a little better every day.

That attitude shift can be seen in his short-term goals. He just hopes to run his World Cup starts free of mistakes, figuring top finishes will come with experience.

It also was evident all summer. He said he learned to focus in ways he never had before, to work harder than he ever had before and to squeeze everything out of even a simple day at the water ramps like he never had before.

Now, as he and his teammates embark on their season, he has goals within reach that he never had before.

“It’s come so fast, and I’m just trying to keep looking forward,” Dyer said. “I’m trying to get better every day. If I get a little better every day, eventually I’ll be the best in the world, which is, of course, my goal.”

— To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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