Outsized dreams drive small-statured Seymour
March 14, 2014
Steamboat Springs — Jett Seymour knows a growth spurt is coming.
Actually, that's not true. Seymour knows he loves skiing. He hopes a growth spurt is coming.
His father is 6-foot-2 so his faith isn't entirely misplaced, but for now, the 15-year-old freshman at Steamboat Springs High School is short and he's small.
"5-foot-4, 106 pounds," he said with all the confidence of a young man who checks on a regular basis.
It's easy to dismiss his concerns as part of growing up, but for an aspiring ski racer, the topic is not so quaint. Height and weight can make for muscles and mass, and muscles and mass are key in a gravity-assisted sport like Alpine ski racing.
Seymour pointed to his results in the first two events of this week's Rocky/Central U16 Regional Championships in Steamboat Springs as evidence. He was 23rd in Tuesday's downhill race and 27th in Wednesday's super-G, fine results in an elite field but a far cry from the top-of-the-podium dreams he harbors.
"I'm just not a very good speed skier," he said. "I knew I wouldn't get great results. I was waiting for GS and slalom to come around."
On Friday they did come around, and Seymour seized the opportunity. He was fourth in Friday's two-run giant slalom race on the Sitz and See Me runs at Steamboat Ski Area, posting one of his best results of the season.
"He slayed it," Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Alpine director Deb Armstrong said.
Not built for the mass-friendly speed events, Seymour used his fast skis and quick turns to navigate a sea of gates in the more technical giant slalom race, and he hopes to do the same Saturday in the week's final event, a slalom race at Howelsen Hill.
Seymour was joined at the top of the results sheet by some of the best young skiers in the country. River Radamus, skiing for the United States Training Academy, won his second event of the week — his third top-two finish in three races — with a time of 1 minute, 40.29 seconds.
Vail's Jack Keane was second in 1:41.88 and his teammate Bridger Gile was third in 1:43.77. Seymour was next at 1:45.15.
"He's not the biggest. He's lighter than the majority of them, but he's a highly skilled technical skier," Armstrong said about Seymour. "The GS today wasn’t easy. That's the kind of skiing where Jett can really shine."
Seymour has another chance to stand out Saturday and plenty is on the line. The top finishers from this regional event earn a trip to the U16 Junior National Championships in Park City, Utah, later this month, a huge stage for a young skier aspiring for greatness.
He doesn't lack for ambition.
"I hope to be the best in the world one day," he said.
He doesn't lack for examples, either. The U.S. Ski Team's Ted Ligety — with two Olympic gold medals, four world championships and four season-long World Cup GS championships — is taller at 5-foot-11 but still an inspiration for what can be accomplished in the technical events.
Croatia's Ivica Kostelić, also at 5-foot-11 and a world champion and four-time Olympic silver medalist, is there, as well.
"I like the way he skis," Seymour said. "He reminds me of me."
This side of dangling upside down with bricks in his hands, Seymour is doing what he can. He's trying to pack on the pounds with protein shakes, then turn it into muscle with weight room workouts.
His inability physically to catch up to his peers does bother him, at least sometimes.
"When he's at an event like this, it frustrates him," said his mother, Blair Seymour.
Strictly speaking of height and weight, she — 5-foot-5 — is bad news in the genetics department. Even worse, her parents are 5-foot-2 and 5-foot-8.
"There's hope, but I'm afraid he might have gotten my family's size," she said.
Jett remains optimistic. He has added 4 inches in the last year, after all. Still, a bigger growth spurt remains forever right around the corner. Until it arrives, Seymour plans on sticking to what he knows: GS, slalom and the simple art of ski racing.
"Skiing is what I've grown up doing, and it's what I love to do,” he said. “I'm sticking with it. It's going well so far. I hope it goes even better."