Evan Nichols of Lyme, NH
January 28, 2024
Between his overseas competitions we had a moment to hear from Evan Nichols, a recent alumnus of the Ford Sayre Ski Jumping Program. Read his interview below!
Evan is currently ranked 6th in the country. In 2021 he was named to the U.S. National Team and placed 7th at the Olympic Trials. In winter of 2023, Evan took bronze at the World University Winter Games in an individual event and won the first gold for the United States in a two-man team event. Evan also competed at the Junior World Championships and led a four-man team to a fourth place finish (the best in over 10 years for the U.S.), posting the fastest cross-country time of the day among all competitors. Check out more at Evan’s GoFundMe site and help support him this winter!
Thank you, Evan, for reminding us that fun and friendship helps us SOAR! Best of luck in your future competitions.
It’s probably not easy to encapsulate your Ford Sayre experience in a single story, but do you mind telling us your most memorable experience while skiing with Ford Sayre?
To be totally honest I have a terrible memory. But for some reason, one memory stands out to me and it’s nothing special at all, but I think it’s a good representation of my experience at Ford Sayre. I remember getting dropped off for a dryland training session when I was in the 3rd or 4th grade. As soon as I stepped out of the car I sprinted up to the field and found my age group. There was a game of tag going and I jumped right in. I remember having so much fun splashing through muddy grass and puddles and sprinting around having the time of my life. And that’s it. Just a 10-minute warm-up game of tag, but I was so happy to be running wild.
What positive character trait(s) do you think Ford Sayre helped nourish?
Ford Sayre has helped me find joy in everything I do and use that as motivation to work hard when things aren’t going well. Ford Sayre focuses on having fun while training from lollipop skiers all the way through to the oldest kids in the club. Yes, we are all trying to do our best and get good results but enjoying what you do is a lot more important at the end of the day. As I moved from skiing at Oak Hill to competing overseas I realized that if I took myself too seriously and didn’t enjoy the small things and actively seek out things that make me smile, skiing became a lot harder. This became especially important to me through injury. In the past couple of years, I’ve had two ankle surgeries and several illnesses that have held me back and made motivation extremely hard. I was able to find ways to have fun while training and instantly motivation became easier.
Most people reading this have never tried ski jumping (and likely never will)! Can you describe the physical and mental sensations?
Physically the best way I can describe it is by comparing it to putting your hand out the window while driving down the highway. You can play with the air and feel it lift up or push down your hand depending on how you position it. Ski jumping feels like that but with your whole body. Mentally it’s a bit more complex. Going into each jump I am trying to focus on a few things that I need to do to improve my form. I have taken so many jumps that much of what I do relies on muscle memory so I can focus on a few things to tweak that could make large differences. And while that sounds like it would make things easy, it does not. While traveling 55mph and trying to travel upwards of 100-120 meters in the air the smallest movements have huge impacts. Constant focus is vital for good jumps. Well… most of the time. Sometimes just shutting off your brain works just as well.
If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Nothing, I wouldn’t change a thing. Just enjoy it because it’s going to be great. You’re going to meet some of your best friends, learn some great lessons, and have countless once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
How do you deal with pressure?
In high-pressure situations, I’ve done well sometimes and poorly plenty. For me, I just try to accept that the reality of life is that not everything will be a success but I can always work hard and I can always sing too loud to make myself laugh if I’m getting too stressed.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Shut up legs!” -Jens Voigt
Do you have a childhood hero?
Not really. I looked up to several older athletes when I was young and I always looked up to my older sister but I never really idolized any specific person.
What are your passions in addition to skiing?
I love climbing trees, long runs in the woods, and pretty much any game with a ball.
And finally, if you could invite any two people – from real life or fiction – to join you skiing (or to teach how to ski jump 🙂 who would they be and why?
Probably just my parents or two of my buddies. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and I can guarantee a fun time with them. And that is why I love skiing.
And that’s what we at Ford Sayre love to hear! Family, friends, skis under our feet – what more could one ask for in life.