JEONGSEON, South Korea (AP) Steven Nyman couldn't have picked a better place to post his first podium result of the season: on the downhill course that will be used for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.
The American skier finished third behind Kjetil Jansrud of Norway and Dominik Paris of Italy on Saturday in the opening test event for the next Winter Games.
''Coming here and feeling very positive about the hill is something that will really excite me for two years for now,'' Nyman said. ''Obviously there's a lot more preparation before that and I have to ski well to place myself in a good position to get a medal but this hill bodes well with me.''
On a course lined with sacred trees recognized for their fertility powers, Nyman turned to some spiritual help.
''I was at the top today whispering to the wind, because it was kind of circular. I was just like, `Work with me here, baby,''' he explained. ''I like the holistic side of things sometimes. It can bring some power into your mentality.''
Nyman's conversation with the wind paid off until the last few gates, when a big gust slowed him, dropping him from second to third.
''The wind is very interesting here. I was at the finishing jump and in 10 to 15 seconds you have tailwind, headwind, sidewind, so you got to be on the lucky side of the draw,'' U.S. Alpine director Patrick Riml said. ''The wind was definitely not in his favor.''
Still, Nyman was delighted with his result and bowed to the crowd according to the local custom. He finished 0.41 behind Jansrud in perfect conditions with clear skies, cool temperatures and hard snow - a perfect fit for the 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter) skier from Sundance, Utah, who mowed Robert Redford's lawn as a kid.
It was the seventh podium result of Nyman's career but first away from Val Gardena, Italy, and Beaver Creek, Colorado.
''I know I can win on all the courses,'' Nyman said. ''I've learned a lot.''
Filled with big jumps and a lot of terrain, the newly developed course in Jeongseon fits Nyman's skill set perfectly.
''It's kind of a combination of Beaver Creek and Val Gardena. You got Beaver Creek snow and Val Gardena flow,'' U.S. head coach Sasha Rearick said after four Americans finished in the points.
New father Andrew Weibrecht placed 16th, Marco Sullivan was 18th and Travis Ganong 22nd.
''We're in pretty good shape here,'' U.S. downhill coach Alex Hoedlmoser said, referring to Nyman, Weibrecht and Ganong each posting top-five spots in training. ''We have multiple guys that can do really, really well here.''
Ganong re-aggravated a left knee injury while landing a jump and limped away from the finish area after receiving medical treatment.
''I'm pretty sore,'' he said.
Thomas Biesemeyer, another American, was the only of 53 racers who came close to crashing. Somehow, though, he regained control just before hitting the nets and recovered to finish last, nearly 15 seconds back.
A super-G is scheduled for Sunday in the first of 28 test events for the next Winter Games.
With discipline leader Aksel Lund Svindal out for the season following a crash in Kitzbuehel, Austria, last month, Weibrecht will wear the leader's red bib.
Weibrecht's wife gave birth to the couple's first child, Adalena, on Thursday back home in Lake Placid, New York. So he's been spending a lot of time on video calls to see the baby.
''He hasn't had many hours of sleep,'' Rearick said. ''But he's skiing well.''
After Sunday, the Americans will remain in South Korea for four more days of training on the Olympic course, having signed an exclusive agreement with the Korean Ski Association.
''We've built some great partnerships and that's critical for us and for our athletes,'' Riml said. ''We did that in Sochi (for the 2014 Olympics in Russia) and we did it here and I hope it's going to make an impact when the games come.''
If Nyman's result Saturday was any indication, it looks like the move may pay off.
Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf