Get out! Focus on the fun, not frustration, when skiing
Two Sundays ago, I stood precariously on the top of a giant bump on the Cow Camp run at Powderhorn. I’ve skied Cow Camp plenty of times, but on this day it was particularly gnarly.
The snow was thinning in places, and as I made my first turn down the hill I had to avoid a large rock. That threw me off balance, and I fell. No big deal, right? Well, it shouldn’t have been. I got up, traversed over to the right a little bit trying to find a good line, and made another awkward turn.
I can ski so much better than this, I thought to myself. What is wrong with me? I hate this. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. I stood there fuming at myself and my sudden inability to make it down this run with nice form and graceful turns.
Then I heard a voice say, “You’re putting too much pressure on yourself. Just relax and have fun.”
Sure, I might’ve been talking to myself, but it didn’t matter. All the anger and irritation drained away. I looked ahead, saw a good line and just took it. I just went for it. Relaxed and focused on cranking out turns, I skied the rest of the run well and, in my own eyes at least, redeemed myself.
The bigger question is: What was I redeeming myself from? I was skiing a steep, bumpy run, and I’d skied it before. Whether I skied it well or not didn’t really matter, did it? I still skied it.
I was missing the point. Instead of spending my time at the ski resort (or on the bike trail or the hiking trail for that matter) worried about my form and every turn being just right, I should have been focused on other things like bluebird skies, the warmth of the sun and the sweet smell of air above the inversion.
I know I’m not alone.
When stopping to rest on a ski run, or when you’re on the lift as an observer of those below you, it’s easy to see (and hear) fear and frustration in others. It’s understandable. Skiing can make you feel vulnerable and out of control; knowing people are on a ski lift above you watching doesn’t help matters. We wonder what others think. Did they see me fall? Do I look like I know what I’m doing?
Well, you know what? It doesn’t matter. What you should be doing is having fun. It’s what we all should be doing.
We shouldn’t be on a ski hill worried that people might see us fall. We should be on a ski hill celebrating the fact that we’re, well, on a ski hill at all.
I am the only person in my family who skis. We’re from Georgia, and most Georgians think anyone insane enough to strap sticks to their feet and aim them downhill when it’s 20 degrees out is crazy. But I still ski.
I ski because it’s fun. It’s exciting to feel the cold air in your face and hear the sound of wind whipping through your helmet. It’s fun to find your own path through the trees and embrace the silence of the glades. These are the things I want to think about when I’m skiing. These are the things we should all think about.
This ski season (or bike season or hiking season or whatever your season may be), let’s all just focus on being in the moment and enjoying that moment.
When I look back on my last day of skiing I want to remember it as fun. I want to think about that last day (far in the future though it may be) and think, “Yeah, that was a fun day.”
I don’t want to look back and think, “Wow, I was so angry on the hill that day ...”
I think the next time I fall down, I’m just going to lie there for a minute. Then I’m going to smile, get up and make a turn around the next bump.
Instead of getting angry at myself, I’m going to say, “You know what? You’re still skiing it. You’re still here, and you’re skiing. Enjoy it.”