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Double corks in the Grand Prix superpipe at Copper are a far cry from Sims's original ditch concept, and the signature Steve Fisher Pro Sims snowboard Fisher will be riding in the competition makes those original Sims contraptions look like the museum pieces they are. But Fisher is honored to be part of the company's history.
"I've been really fortunate," he says. "I try to remember that every day. The bubble that we live in as professional snowboarders — wow, is it small. I'm trying to keep things in perspective and remember how lucky I am to be able to be doing this at all."
Despite all the humble talk, when it comes down to it, Fisher's a shrewd competitor. Double cork or no, he's planning to come on strong this weekend at Copper Mountain, and he's got his eye on the prize: not just a spot on the Olympic team, but a gold medal in Vancouver.
"I'm going to go into the first event and try to go with big amplitude and smooth, lofty tricks, really pick up where I left off last year," he says. "I think a lot of guys are going to be busting their ass on overkill to try to get these double corks and other brand-new tricks before the first event, and they're going to have so much anxiety about it that they may or may not land it. I think we're going to be seeing some seriously herky-jerky style until people start getting them dialed, and my plan is to rise above all that by doing what I do best."
Fisher's friend Gretchen Bleiler thinks he's right to trust his instinct.
"Steve is such a naturally talented rider that we call him 'First Run Steve,'" Bleiler says. "He could drop in the first run of the day at eight o'clock in the morning, first day of the season, and throw his most difficult run. He's very consistent and an amazing all-around rider."
Bleiler won a silver medal at the 2006 Olympics and has a trophy case full of hardware of her own, and she's been helping talk Fisher through the mental game it will take to make the cut. "It's a high-pressure situation, and overcoming yourself and your own thoughts is as much a part of it at that level as the physical ability," she says. "It's definitely a whole different game for the guys this year. Everything's changed with these new double corks everyone's trying and the Olympics on the horizon. You can feel the tension in the air with all of these guys, and there's going to be a lot of falling this season, because people are going to be going for it. Steve has his head on pretty straight about what he wants to do, but he's going to have to push himself farther than he's ever pushed himself, for sure."
And he's not the only one. Although it's hard to imagine a scenario in which Shaun White doesn't make the Olympic team, even the Flying Tomato is beatable. After all, the Fish has come out ahead of White at a handful of events, including the 2007 X Games and the final stop of last season's Dew Tour, at North Star, where Fisher placed behind Mason Aguirre to close out the season in second place overall. White will be caught up in the same head game as Fisher and everyone else over the next two months as pressure builds before the Olympics, and he'll be going for the riskiest moves of anyone in the competition, an all-or-nothing strategy that has made him a celebrity but could also be his downfall.
"Fisher seems ready to go all the way," says Bower after watching a morning practice session at Copper. "He's starting off really well and riding strong. We're going to have to address the double-cork issue and see how he wants to approach that, and he'll have some important steps ahead of him, but I think a spot on the Olympic team is his for the taking if he puts his mind to it."
A spot on the Olympic team, and maybe even a Wheaties box.