For me, skiing has always been a reflect of life. I even teach this concept during my lessons at times. It’s a simple idea that I ran into several years ago when I first started teaching skiing. The thought came to me like a incredible blast of cool brisk air, filled the scent of pine on a Winter morning. I was speaking with Mary Wittke years ago, she was the ski school director at Brighton who hired me as a younger, ambitious, fresh off the lift, ski instructor. Mary taught us from not just a technical/movement point of view, but also from a spiritual or total sensory approach.

In skiing, the number one challenge that all skiers face is to conquer balance. Like in life if we are out of balance, things become sketchy fast. There are 3 major elements that make the circle of balance; edging, rotary and pressure. These elements combine to keep you balanced over your feet at all times to create speed control and the desired outcome of your experience. Whether you want to go slow, fast, do bumps, steeps, powder, crud or cruise on the groomers. Cross blending these elements enables you to create your own experience.

In life the same principles are true… just the elements change. To find balance in life, we must combine the 3 elements of  spiritual, physical and emotional. Over emphasizing any of these elements, like in skiing, can throw you out of balance quickly. When one element is emphasized, the others take over to find balance again.  for example, if I edge my skis more than rotate my feet when turning, speed control starts to be more of a concern that direction. My speed increases and balance turns to survival movements… just like life.

As the ski season comes to an end, I start to feel those deep, familiar feelings of sadness and loss. It happens every year for me. Anymore I expect it. This has become a trigger to start to move on into the next chapter/season and to reflect on how amazing the past 4+ months have been. It’s always a time to say goodbye temporarily to old friendships and prepare to put the skis back in Summer storage (not there yet). Again, like life.. this is a transition to the next chapter. I remember the first time I felt this “ping” at the end of my season… It was such a bitter-sweet feeling… that was 14 years ago, and I still feel it today. This has become an annual experience that tells me just how much I have learned to love the experience that skiing teaches me about life. Mary was right, this has become a life changing experience. My mentors way back then are still teaching me valuable lesson of life and skiing…. Hey! Maybe a book title for the future.. “lessons of life and skiing” or “the diary of a life changed by balanced turns..” or “Face Shots, a recipe for balance in powder and life”… hmmmm, maybe someday.

Anyway, “Thank You”..  Mark Wittke, Carolyn Fushimi, Deb Myers, Robert “chip” Brzezinski, Jennifer Gilmore, Conny Knab from the old days and a big “Thank You” to Chris Searle, Bill Novak, Carolyn Fushimi, Spock, Lelsie Blank, Everyone in “The Cove”, Terry Wright, Doug Kitchen, Jordan, Sharon, Sean, Tim, Lakay, Ken, Jack, Aldo.. it’s a long list.. all mentors in your own way, to help me find balance in both skiing and life this season. I have in fact realized that this second family of friends have become a huge support group over the years, saying see you next season is a hard thing to do.. not knowing what the future holds. BUT, such valuable lessons taught and learned every season. The irony is, that as teachers of a sport, we in fact become the students of the people we teach to ski. Like the Japanese exchange students  I taught the day after the tsunami devastated their country, or the family from Houston that comes to ski Brighton every year (who also used to listen to the station I programmed there until it changed), like the family from Hawaii, the black diamond lesson that was REALLY a black diamond lesson, The UK students that just wanted to ski hard and laugh harder.. all incredible lessons learned this year, about life and a little skiing.

I also need to thank my incredible soul mate, my wife for teaching me subtle lessons this season too. Without her unwavering faith and confidence in me, I would be moving a lot slower. She’s also a helleva skier… we skied powder most of the day yesterday. I miss spending the day skiing with her. She’s always a lot of fun and a great freind to laugh with, as we talk about what hill/trail we plan to conquer next. Both on the ski hill and in life. Her attitude has always been one of adventure… Thank You Lelani.. I love you for this..

Skiing in da powda wid my snow bunny... yes it's a Hawaiian print coat...

Recently I have been doing this TV morning show in Park City. It’s fun to learn a new direction in broadcasting and work on new skills. It’s a cheap education, and I’m surrounded by passionate people who really care about their product, regardless of how poorly the organization is run. It’s refreshing to see and feel this passion from broadcasters again. The show airs live every morning Monday Through Friday locally on cable and streamed live as well at www.parkcity.tv

I have my PSIA skiing assessment this coming Friday at Snowbird (pray for good, soft.. non-slushy/non-icy snow).. just a little freaked out by this. BUT.. I don’t expect to pass it, so I calm myself with this thought, as it’s closely followed by the thought of.. “yeah, but what if!” If I ski like did yesterday in the powder.. hell, I’m sure I’ll at least come close…. we’ll see. This is a process that Mary and Carolyn started in me 14 years ago… constant personal challenge and goals for improvement (really just trying to face my demons) has become a way of life for me.

I have been reading book lately, one without pictures too. I know, “what the what?”. I met Tim Sanders many years ago at a radio conference. He was a keynote speaker. Former executive at Yahoo! and motivational speaker… and a friend, at least on Facebook. He recently wrote another book, one that I ‘had to’ get.. he’s a great writer and has an ability to connect with people. Anyway, the book is titled ‘Today We Are Rich‘.

I have only started in the first half of the book, but already find myself thinking a bit differently. The basic premise is to fill you body and mind with positive things, and positive things come out. It’s a concept that creates confidence. I have come to realize that the experiences I’ve had in the last several years, have made me start to question and doubt my abilities there by sending me down the road of losing confidence.. yup! This journey has helped me see myself in different ways that are sometimes hard to face.

Finding color in the grey isn’t just a metaphor, it’s also  Spring time. Renewal and rebirth…  As I say good-bye to the ski season and all it stands for, another season emerges. So you see.. skiing does imitate life again…

Warmer temps, as Carolyn also put it, means an opportunity to reflect, renew and start the process to prepare for the next season…. “Cuz ski season is always just around the corner, but you’ve got to be ready.. you can’t ski yourself into shape”.. as in life….

Today, I am Rich….

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