When you’re sitting on a chair lift with the wind and hail whipping at your face and you can’t see a foot in front of you, you have to ask yourself: why are you doing this? Not to mention when you’re at the edge of a precipice looking down at the steep, icy piste that you’re about to throw yourself down. The whole experience of skiing, at least for those of us who weren’t given a pair of skis at age three, is terrifying.
There’s something incredibly powerful, however, about going ahead despite the fear, pushing yourself through the discomfort. Of course, you could stay on the blue pistes (the easy ones), you could snow plough, you could even stay at home if you want – but you’d be missing out! Keep raising the bar, take some lessons, continue to push yourself… and you’ll be rewarded as you get better and better and you can enjoy all the benefits that come with the experience of skiing.
Here’s what I’ve learned from a week of throwing myself down the Swiss mountains – in spite of my very real fears!
1. It gets easier the more you do it
The first time you do something – the first day you’re on your skis, the first time you try a steep run, the first time you go off piste – you think you’ll never be able to do it. The second time, you know you’ve already done it once. And again and again until it becomes part of what’s within your comfort zone. Then, of course, you raise the bar further…
2. The more confident you are, the better
When you’re skiing, especially when you’re skiing in powder, your fear will try to protect you, making you lean backwards – but in fact the best thing you can do is stay upright and attack the slope with conviction. At some point you have to believe that you can do it. Point your skis downhill, and just go!
3. You feel great when you see what you’ve accomplished
Yes it’s terrifying to go hurtling down a mountain, and yes you may doubt your abilities the whole time; but you will make it down, one way or another, and when you do, you can look back up the piste with great satisfaction at what you’ve just conquered.
4. You have to manage on your own
Once you’ve started down a piste, there’s no going back. You’re completely and utterly on your own. Your friends or ski instructor can cheer you on, they can give you moral support – but they can’t actually help you. You have to suck it up and get on with it.
5. When you fall, you have to get back up again
You’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to be tired, and you’re going to fall. When the inevitable happens, there’s nothing for it but to pick yourself up and keep going. Unless you’ve broken something, you’re not going to get helicoptered out of there so brush off that snow, take a deep breath, and make your next turn.
6. Life is richer when you take some risks
After an intense day out on the slopes, challenging yourself both physically and mentally, it feels amazing at the end of the day when you finally get to take your ski boots off. Having been so close to death during the day makes you feel all the more alive when you go out at night! Much more so than if you had just been hanging around the house all day.