What’s skiing going to do for me?
We really don’t understand the benefits of skiing until we have gone skiing. I’m sure you can think of many reasons why people ski from the fresh air of the outdoors, to the exhilaration of sliding down the hill, but did you know there are so many more benefits and reasons why people ski?
Some of us get into skiing because it was a job opportunity in university or college. “Hey, wanna be a ski instructor?” For others, it’s a fun weekend sport that we can involve the entire family. No matter what your reason, here are a few benefits that skiing has provided over the years.
The FUN Factor
Ok, ok, everyone knows it’s fun. If you’ve never skied before, there is a rush when you’re standing at the top of the slope with your friends for the first time and looking out over the vista even though it may be on the bunny slope at Mont Tremblant (still, very spectacular). There’s something really cool about enjoying a sport like skiing that enables you to travel down a snowy slope and turn at will. YOU control the pace and turn shape (hopefully) and with that, the sport of skiing can become very fun. Imagine ripping down the slope and leaning into the turn getting a grip on the outside ski and carving up the turns. Ponder the feeling of being able to chase your spouse down the slopes and high-five at the bottom because “you made it”. Picture skiing down a slope at Alberta’s very own Nakiska Ski Area and being cut off by a mountain lion. “What, a mountain lion? No, I’m not talking about the ‘cougar’ you see in the bar. I real live mountain lion. I don’t know if the word “Fun” describes it best, but perhaps “holy shit!” None the less, it was a memory that made it fun.
Fitness & Exercise
Wow, there are so many benefits about skiing and the fitness aspect is just one of them. Not only the fitness and exercise you get during the day on the slopes, but the fitness routine you have implemented BEFORE the season actually started. Our fitness level boosts our cardio and muscular fitness, and flexibility which plays a huge role when enjoying the slopes. Lack of mobility and flexibility can greatly hinder your ability to try something new. Fitness can improve our ability to feel the position of different body parts and the effort that goes into moving them (proprioceptive). Fitness can prevent knee and ankle damage and diminish osteoporosis. Just skiing down the slope greatly improves our aerobic activity if we do it right. Think of the calories we’re burning and the exercise on our hearts. Skiing can “pump you up“, not to mention keep you young.
If you’re a quiet introspective person or perhaps a shy introvert, then skiing has the ability to bring you out of your shell. I use to be a quiet reserved stoic person in my early days. It all changed when I was introduced to ski teaching. I got a job at a local ski resort and was forced to come out of my shell. I had to be presentable, social, fun, exciting, and engaging with people in order to make their day. Even if I wasn’t a ski instructor, some of the same skills or characteristics have to come out during your day on the slopes. Have you ever sat on a chairlift and not said a word? It’s kind of impossible. “So, how’s your day?”; “Did you ski that run?”; “Wow, look at that skier!” It’s all part of that 2-20 minute conversation. You get really good at small resorts where the slope is not that lengthy. It’s even more evident when you have to take the gondola and chat with a handful of strangers. Skiing creates an environment that is social. Try standing in a lift line and not talking – good luck with that…
The social aspects of skiing can create new friends, new interest groups, or perhaps a new best friend. Now that’s just on the slope. Imagine après-skiing ?
New Sites and Destinations
Skiing opens up a whole new world. From the local ski resort to your ski vacation with the family, skiing opens our eyes to all new possibilities. I’ve personally been to hundreds of resorts all over the world and there’s always something that is new and exciting. Imagine flying for 7 hours, renting a car and driving for 4 hours, and skiing with a long lost friend for the day in Portillo Chile? The southern hemisphere is definitely an eye opener.
The experience of a lifetime awaits and discovering new places in your own backyard or across the world creates memories for a lifetime.
We all have our circles of friends and activities that we do day-in and day-out. We might play squash with a buddy down at the local gym or perhaps enjoy a yoga class with our favourite yoga instructor. Workouts, baseball games, cutting the lawn, or what ever we do on a regular basis are all part of our regular routine. Imagine breaking that routine a little bit and discovering something new. Skiing can not only be a new adventure, but think about all the peripheral activities and events that surround that one day of skiing? Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, resort pool, horse-races in the snow, backcountry hiking & skiing, spa visits, Heli-skiing, wine tasting, beer gardens, cool bar festivities, apres-ski dinners with friends,… do I need to go on?
Skiing is just the daily activity. Apres-ski can introduce a whole new list of activities to you and your family that you’ve never experienced before.
Visiting a new apes-ski bar for the first time and playing pool with Michael J. Fox and Woody Harrilson tends to rank up there with one of the events I never thought would happen if I didn’t ski.
It goes without saying all the new people you’re going to meet during your day on the slopes. Making acquaintances and new friends is pretty much a fore-gone conclusion when you spend some time on the slopes. You really never know who you’re going to meet on the slopes.
There was a day when I was skiing in Portillo, Chile and the owner invited me to join them for lunch. As I was sitting there trying to sound intelligent with my limited Spanish vocabulary, a couple of people approached our lunch table to speak with the resort’s owner. I think I was a little rude because my jaw kept hitting my plate. Roger Moore and his son ‘dropped by to say hello’. A surreal experience to say the least and some pretty cool people to meet. Imagine if I never took up skiing, I wouldn’t have met Roger Moore.
The Great Outdoors
We can’t imagine a winter going by without jumping into the snow and skiing. If you’re staying at home and not getting outdoors, you’re missing out. Have you ever heard the weather man say: “Heavy snow today with blizzard like conditions. It might be a good day to stay home!” – Huh? Get your ass in gear and pack up the family for a day on the slopes. You’ll never regret it.
Remember: There is no dress rehearsal, this is the show so either get on stage or take a seat in the audience. Our time on this planet is short so use each of your 1440 minutes every day and follow your passion. Who knows where it might take you.
Learn Something New
Ok, this is a cool one. One of my biggest kickers is learning. There’s something about learning a new skill. Whether it’s a new language or new recipe, or new skiing technique, there’s something very gratifying about self development.
Skiing is all about balance and the ability to turn how and when you want. Similar to golf, there are many little subtleties that can make a huge difference. Learning these components takes time and patience. If we really want to improve our skiing, we have to develop a plan and strategy to implement properly. Taking a lesson from a seasoned ski instructor can provide us with just the right information at the right time to develop a new skill. Motor skill development takes guided practice and persistence, but there’s nothing more real about the feeling of applying a new skill and having a sense of accomplishment.
Challenge your body and your mind to learn something new. Take a lesson, make more turns, ski steeper, ski faster, take part in a race, hit a new slope. No matter what you’re learning, you will much better just for trying. So, whether you’re starting your ski journey or refining a high-end skiing skill, Go For it and build that skill set. It will be worth it.
Share a Passion
It’s an opportunity to get involved in an industry that has so many perks. Many employment channels exist to get involved in and more importantly, it’s a chance to become a leader at something. Perhaps ski teaching, coaching, patrolling, or management are areas you can become involved in and start to give back to people.
As a ski instructor for more than 30 years, I can think of a more gratifying sport that I’ve learned so much from and that I want to give back every time I’m on the slope.Andrew Elsdon
Skiing does something to us. It creates positive endorphins into our body that make us feel good just enjoying a day on the slopes. Skiing can put us in a good mood and actually make us happier. It helps with mid-winter depression (SAD), and can actually boost our immune system. It’s almost a zen-like thing where you are ‘at one’ with the mountain. Laughing all the way down the slope and giggling on the chair with your family and friends can really create some positive mindfulness.
So, if you’re first timer or seasoned pro, think about this: Imagine looking up at the morning blue sky and seeing the snow glisten off the piste. Imagine warming up on your first attempt on the mountain and easing into your day with a slide. Imagine how clear your head is because you’re so focused on the slope. It’s very meditative and good for the noggin.
In most cases, the worst day on the slopes is better than the best day in the office….