BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — In this fantasy league, tailbacks Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson are absolutely worthless.
And fantasy participants don't procure points through touchdowns and yards but by podium finishes and fast times.
This is a league where Carlo Janka of Switzerland is as valuable as Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and taking a long shot like American Travis Ganong to win a race at, say, Beaver Creek this weekend, could pay off as handsomely as the waiver-wire pickup of Eagles QB Michael Vick.
Started this season by U.S. skier Steven Nyman, the fantasy skiing league has gone from 500 enthusiasts at the start of the World Cup season to nearly 2,000 now.
Down the road, Nyman is hoping his creation has a fraction of the following of fantasy football. That's why he originally came up with the concept.
The idea is quickly catching on among his fellow ski racers. In fact, Finland's Andreas Romar is leading the league, and Sweden's Patrik Jaerbyn isn't far behind. Another Swede, Hans Olsson, also takes part in the league, along with pretty much everyone on the U.S. ski team, with the exception of Ted Ligety.
But Ligety thinks the notion is quite catchy and vowed to field a team at some point.
"You see what fantasy football has done. It gets people way more involved," Ligety said. "Without fantasy football, you wouldn't know who the second running back was on the Jacksonville Jaguars. Now you know who people are. It's the same thing with this. You'll know who these skiers are."
And that's really the point.
In addition to the competition, Nyman and his creative team — his older brother and designer Pete Rugh — plan to have blogs so people can learn more about the athletes, along with taped interviews and information about the majestic mountains that host events.
"Ski racing has a lot of history," said Nyman, who's from Sundance, Utah. "This is a matter of creating the connection with fans and the racers. It's driving people to pay attention."
Especially in a non-Olympic year, when ski racing is almost an afterthought in the U.S.
The brainstorm came to Nyman while on the road in Europe when he and the Swedish skiers made friendly wagers on who would win different slalom events. Nothing complicated, just a list of the top 10 and those who would "DNF" (did not finish).
"I won a couple, Jaerbyn was pretty good at it and we had a good time," Nyman said. "It was fun."
So much so that Nyman took it to next level.
This is how it works: Players select which skiers they think will finish in the top 10 in a particular event at a World Cup stop. If that skier finishes in the place you assign, major points.
If they finish somewhere in the top 10, even more points.
Nyman also came up with a complicated algorithm to award bonus points for picking skiers outside of the top 30 in the world.
The bigger the risk, the bigger the payoff — sort of like skiing.
But there's one steadfast rule for those racers on the circuit who take part: They must select themselves.
"That's not good if you don't pick yourself," said Nyman, who has the backing of the U.S. Ski Team to launch this venture and is hoping to gain support from the rest of the World Cup.
So, how's the founder faring with his fantasy team?
"I'm bad," Nyman admitted. "I was really good initially. In the first race, I ended up like 15th or something, out of 500 people. But I haven't put time into it. When I have more down time this winter, I'll probably pick more slalom races."
Sorry, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers isn't eligible for this fantasy lineup.
But Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal is, and that's who Ganong selected for the downhill race Friday on the Birds of Prey course. He's also picked American Bode Miller and, of course, himself to finish in the top 10.
Should that come through, it would be a big fantasy day for Ganong, especially since Ganong's outside the top 30.
"This is awesome," said Ganong, a 22-year-old from Squaw Valley, Calif. "It's such a good way to get fans more involved in the sport. It's like fantasy football, where every week you check in. You see what's going on in the training runs, see how everyone's looking and then make your picks."
Nyman's hardly taking a risk this week, picking Miller to do well. He's also going with Austria's Mario Scheiber because he's never won a World Cup race and he's "just hungry."
A little inside information, for sure.
"You're picking different people every single race, trying to figure out who's best and who's not," Nyman said. "You get to become part of the sport."
The only downside for Nyman have been all the e-mails. When the site first launched, it had a few bugs and he heard all about them.
"It was always like, 'I can't delete my team, this isn't working, my picks are wrong,'" Nyman said. "We've pretty much considered it a beta test until now. We'll keep adding more and more.Comment on this story
"Hopefully, it will explode."
And make the choice between Canada's Erik Guay or Italy's Christof Innerhofer to win a downhill as much of a debate as deciding between Ray Rice or Michael Turner at running back.