Revelations of a Novice Skier

“I think the most important thing in skiing is you have to be having fun. If you’re having fun, then everything else will come.”

Lindsey Vonn

My first introduction to skiing was every bit as difficult as I imagined it would be. It didn’t seem fun. There was so much admin. There were no easy parts. Putting on the boots, walking in the boots, holding the equipment, getting on the ski lift, getting off the ski lift – everything was tough. The whole experience felt completely alien and that’s before I’d even made an attempt to put on my skis. Those first 45 minutes of lugging gear in the direction of a mountain were harrowing.

Despite this, despite feeling completely out of my comfort zone, I ended up having an amazing, life-affirming week skiing (falling) down the least threatening gradients that Alpe D’Huez had to offer.

It didn’t take too long for me to understand the appeal and see why those fortunate enough fork out for these trips multiple times per year; there’s something about careering towards a line of tiny ski-school attendees which is oddly exhilarating. You have to learn fast. And the learning part is incredibly addictive.

Slowly but surely, you begin to improve and you find yourself attempting techniques that are way beyond your skill-level. Following an evening watching hour after hour of “carving” tutorials on YouTube, I spent much of the following morning intimately connected to the snow. As the saying goes, if you’re not falling, you’re not learning. On that day, I must have been learning a lot.

In everyday life, I’d be incredibly embarrassed to have my ineptitude on full display. On the slopes, I couldn’t have cared less. Perhaps it’s the sense of anonymity that comes with wearing a mask. Perhaps it’s the fact that everyone is just skiing their own run. Whatever the case, I felt no sense of shame despite slipping, sliding and subsequently sprawling across the slope on a stupidly persistent basis.
I felt invisible and this gave me the opportunity to learn and progress. It’s amazing how much you can improve at something when, like a toddler learning to walk, you get up and try again with no concept of being judged or ridiculed.

Incremental improvement was made and whilst descending on the final day, no longer fearing that I would hurtle uncontrollably into an unsuspecting child, my mind freed up and I considered the things that I had gained from my experience as a novice skier.

Firstly, I had obtained an expensive commitment to return on a yearly basis (and a resolution to fall less frequently when I do). Secondly, I had acquired an unhealthy obsession with Deb Armstrong’s ski lessons on YouTube (she’s incredible!). Thirdly, I was filled with a fierce desire to be the happiest, healthiest version of myself. Finally, I wanted to care less what people think, particularly when I fail.

Those final two have led me here.

Much like my first descent down the slopes, I’m not entirely sure in which direction this will travel, but I’ve decided to challenge myself to be the best runner and best golfer that I can possibly be. My progress will be documented in this blog.

It’s not immediately obvious why a week skiing has left me wanting to do nothing but run and play golf, but I guess it’s possibly because they are sports that require focus, commitment, technical skill and extreme levels of mental resilience, whilst being enjoyed in the great outdoors.

Ideally, my ascent to the peak of the sporting would be as effortless as a chair lift to the top of a mountain. I’ve set lofty aims of being a scratch golfer and sub 3 hour marathoner at the earliest possible opportunity. More than anything, and just like my week on the slopes, I’m going to prioritise being toddler-like in my enjoyment of failure because (as Lindsey Vonn put it), “If you’re having fun, then everything else will come.”