Nicky Goes Downhill Fast

Henny Ray Abrams | January 15, 2009
MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, ITALY, JAN 15: Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden didn’t let the fact that he hadn’t skied for a dozen years slow him down. For the first time since hitting the slopes in southern Indiana as a 15-year-old, Hayden slipped into a pair ski boots for a run down the snow-covered slopes of Madonna di Campiglio, Italy, a famed Italian ski resort which is hosting the annual Ducati team launch.

Hayden first went out for a brief session with an instructor on Wednesday, then spent much of Thursday on the slopes after unveiling the Ducati Marlboro Desmosedici GP9 high in the Italian Dolomites.

As to how it compared to Paoli Peaks, Indiana, he said there wasn’t a whole lot to say.

“It’s not like this, believe me,” he said. “It’s three slopes, two lifts and it was, like, fake snow.”

After his first run he said, “It was pretty cool. I can’t say, wow, I can’t wait to get back out there. But it was pretty fun. I stayed off the ground. No major drama.”

Hayden said he took it easy because he “just didn’t want to get in over my head. I had an instructor there telling me pointers, but also had cameras and real cameras, so that’s always nice for a beginner. But none of my buddies or my brothers, nobody was there to really entice me in over my head, so I was able to stay within my limits.”

Former 500cc GP racer Randy Mamola, who followed Hayden for a bit, was impressed with Hayden’s form on his first run, saying he looked fearless going downhill.

“First couple hills I couldn’t get stopped and I was just kind of along for the ride,” Hayden said. “When everybody has advice, it’s just one more thing.”

As to whether he was ready for Friday’s slalom race, he wasn’t sure.

“Everybody said, you did a good job, good job,” he said. “I don’t know if they’re just trying to make me feel good or if I really did.”

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.