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Hundred Days 023

Solo Mission



Day 023: 01/12/11 – A Solo Mission

Written By: Madelaine German

Today at work, my ski instructor friend recounted his group lesson of the day to me. “The first thing I do,” he said, “is to teach my kids how to put their own skis on. And then I make them all learn how to duck walk up the hill.”

A little harsh, I thought. Why not engage them in something a little more positive? Maybe begin the day with something like a reaffirming confidence-building exercise?

“Because,” he began, “that’s what I’m doing. Skiing is not about what anyone has to say to you about what’s going on. It’s about how you handle yourself when your shit goes down. This is not a team sport.”

And as my thoughts raced, paced, and danced to the idea, I came to a quick and easy stop. Yes, exactly.

Inside the short story of my friend’s day, he had summed up the essence of what I love about skiing. The engine that drives all of our ski bum machines hums to a sweet, steady waltz — a dance involving no other partner, save the lilt of our own shred-the-gnar turns.

When you’re in the middle of a beautiful carve, no one else’s edges will help grab slope but yours. As you’re fast-skiing bumps, you can’t afford to think about anything but the line right in front of you. When you go big, nothing else exists but the send, air, and stomp. And when you lose your skis in a double-eject after said send, more often than not, you’ll find yourself a solo seeker for your loved but prodigal sticks.

All of this is exactly what my friend was talking about. “I don’t have time to find each one of these kid’s skis when they crash. If I want to give them a real lesson in how to ski, I teach them how to handle their own equipment, and how to put themselves back together after whatever crazy thing happens, happens.”

Rings true. Think about it — the way you ski is the way you live your life. Our turns are our mirror, and our fears, our limit. We are all capable of so much more than most of us try, and the people who set themselves apart from the crowd are exactly that — apart from the crowd. But whether you’re in the crowd or out, when you’re on skis, you’re in your own universe, and the whole point of it all is in the fun that you have in discovering your potential as an athlete and as a person. That said, I must agree with my friend as I muse that maybe the most important part of skiing isn’t the fun that you have under perfect conditions — but instead how well you can hold yourself together when the hill throws you a hard knock.


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