Skiing, as in life, requires a certain level of prep. That is to say, getting ready for the season. Getting in shape physically, mentally and spiritually. It is widely known that there are two seasons for skiers. The ski season and the “pre-season”. The ski season simply means enough snow to slide on at altitude. The pre-season encompasses that transitional time of the year when the snow turns to slushy, muddy stuff and the trails are too soft to bike or hike. The pre-season extends into the Spring, Summer and Fall months with nothing but warm temps, with trails and rocks to explore.. this becomes the prep for skiing.
As I look back over my life.. I see a parallel here. Most of our early years are spent exploring new adventures as we “prepare” for life. The school system starts out basic and gets more complicated. Our understanding grows and we take on new challenges and levels of learning. I remember spending Summers in Northern Utah riding my bike on the dirt trails at Mack park next to our house. We would challenge each other to see who could go the fastest, or jump the farthest. That park was amazing. Lots of hidden trails and hills. There was also a great stream that ran through the middle of the park that was always good for an afternoon of fishing or tubing. These were the days I remember most of my childhood. Playing football with the neighbor kids, riding our bikes and learning the magic of playing hard and getting dirty. My younger brother Robyn was usually there in my shadow. He was a fearless bike jumper and trail explorer.. many times I would challenge him to do a jump hat seemed impossible to achieve.. that of course is the older brothers’ job.. I tell you, Robyn ALWAYS made the jump with plenty clearance to spare. He always amazed me. On those rare occasions that he didn’t make it, he would jump up, brush off the dirt and try it again.
I didn’t know it then, but I realize it now. Those Summer days filled with jumping our bikes, hiking the trails and swimming in Smithfield creek all helped with our balance, agility, confidence and sense of play. All critical in skiing too.
Life is a funny thing… You don’t really see your growth or progress until you stop for a second and look back to see you path. Most of the scary seemingly impossible feats all seem easier after the fact. Plus you can see that you really couldn’t make it to the place you are now without the steps or challenges that came before.
When I think about ski season, during the per-season.. I always have a flood of thoughts from my past adventures mixed with new ideas for challenges that will push me even harder. I truly believe that when you “dance” with your demons, you start to play again. Finding your demons and crafting a plan to face them is all part of the “prep” work for life and skiing. I broke my leg when I was 12 while skiing.. this, I would learn later, was a huge demon for me to face and dance with.
Life challenge —
**actually write this down**
– Take a deep look inside and meet your demons.
– Identify the root of those fears.
– Realize you can step out of your fear/demon and play with it.
– Take the steps to do something about “exercising” the demon.
Keep that list close.. you’ll add to it. More on this later.
Getting ready for the ski season involves physical challenges that usually bring mental challenges as well. The toughest part is just actually starting to move your butt and set a plan for your bike ride, hike or run. I didn’t realize how out of shape I was until one season I was skiing with our trainer Caroline. She asked me to do Hop-Turns down a slope… couldn’t do it. This the maneuver that forces you to turn your feet about 45 degrees from side to side while maintaining speed control down the steep slope. Caroline added the new element of having me hold onto her poles as she skied backward, forcing me to control our speed with hop-turns. After about 5 hops I quickly realized how much work I had to do.. needless to say I DIDN’T do a great job controlling our speed. Caroline’s comment was something like, “you need to get into better shape.. yah?” I thought… mmmmm, Yah! She suggested that we have so many trails in the Wasatch front and I should try hiking them…. Caroline is one of my hero’s in my ski world. She has a way of challenging all of us as instructors and students of life. She was the first one to introduce me to the idea of “skiing is life”.
I realized that I was going to be a “lifer”, as my first ski school director Mary Wittke put it, when I started thinking about skiing all the time. For example, while we lived in Houston, I would run the levees and sidewalks in our neighborhood. I wouldn’t just run, I would constantly think about balance, edging, pressure and rotary. I would even pay close attention to my ankle, knee, hip and spine alignment as I would run. All things become part of the “pre-season”…. it becomes an obsession.. kind of.
Preparing is also a common thing as we were growing up, like the scouting program.. “Be Prepared”. Everything leads to something else.. or at least it should. So I suggest my next thought.
Make your preparation with a purpose..
Think about it. A comedian doesn’t walk out on stage and just tell jokes, they have a plan. A radio DJ doesn’t just walk into a studio and play whatever they want… it’s usually prepared beforehand. Sorry.. I have also been in broadcasting for 25+ years of my life.. preparing for who knows what. more on this later…
Anyway, Here are some pictures of my Summer vacation… or as I like to think of it…
This has been my “prep” for the ski season.. What I have learned from this, is just how luck I am to see, smell and hear the mountains. Caroline was right!! What an amazing experience to prepare for skiing and life. The mountains have become such a source of strength and growth. I find myself hiking and taking pictures for hours at a time. Can’t get enough of it… Through this process, I feel my body getting stronger. This is what Caroline must have meant..
I have also taken my bike on some pretty cool trails.. and yes jumps that even my brother Robyn wouldn’t do.
I have learned that doing all this stuff with a purpose has actually allowed me to re-capture the little boy who loved to run and play in the park all Summer long. The mystery I have uncovered for me is a true parallel. Learning to play again is so cool!!
Try it.. You’ll be amazed at how much fun it is to find that old demon and dance again like you used to.
Now we need a “Snow Dance” to get the season started…….