Reflections from the skifield

Early morning cloud over The Remarkables


Yesterday I received a top tip from a lifty at Coronet Peak. Today was a 10cm powder day and the top tip came in extremely handy, thank you my man.

During this powder day, I found myself reflecting fairly hard on what it took to advance within a sport, especially one which involves some form of physical risk in order to advance. I’m an alright snowboarder. I can hold my own reasonably well in most places, at times I’ll look smooth on piste, but start to put me in the air or dropping off rocks and I’ll start kooking it.

There comes a point for me, where the anxious ‘what if’ voice becomes louder than the voice representing the solid knowledge of physics that I have and also the confidence of my ability. I know what to do, and I also know that the faster and bigger I go, the easier and more satisfying it will be. Yet somehow, I stall. I speed check. Each and every time I don’t go fast enough. I question my ability to do the basic technical stuff, because there is a small chance that I’ll get it wrong and in turn I allow anxiety to win. This stepping stone, this hurdle, it’s proving to be something really hard to shift.

We had a great day up the hill yesterday. A family day out whilst it was snowing along with the associated super low vis, these are always so good for us all even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. My body was tired this morning, but I knew that it was going to be great, and I had my top tip to try out. Conditions were real nice, a bit thin and crusty at the bottom, way nicer a little further up it was just a wee bit chopped up from yesterday. Just the right kind of day for me to push along a little bit. Would today be the day that I push through this anxiety driven boundary?

To a certain extent it was, I pushed it but still these quibbles. As I tried to drag myself through this, I started to notice that my ego appeared to have come to the decision making team and decided to take a leadership role. For some reason, my motivation appeared to be coming from a place whereby I was wanting to be better than other people around me. The way in which I was trying to psych myself up to hit those lines at that speed was spilling over. As such, the whole combination meant that still, I kept on kooking it more often than not. I need confidence in myself, not the desire to be better than someone else.

I found that I had zero interest in talking to anyone in the line or on the chair. My headphones firmly in and on. The busyness of these places got to me. Where I was riding was fairly quiet, and for some reason, however I’d told myself I needed to ride down as fast as possible. I’d stop to scope lines, but on the whole, I didn’t stop for long, certainly not long enough. Or, the time I did stop was geared around physically recovering.

As I sit here now, using an old coping strategy to get myself through something I want to change, I can’t help but think that I need to take a little more time out on the field. Slow down those runs a little. I mean, is doing a high number of runs a healthy marker of a good day? Quality or quantity. Right now, what’s standing between myself and a higher quality of snowboarding are the issues I have with anxiety and self belief. You’d be correct to think that this is just a case of #1stWorldProblems, which it obviously is in one dimension. However, in another dimension, it is about me trying to overcome something which is mentally taxing for me. If I can fix it here, on the ski field, then hopefully the way in which I do this, and the tools that I use can be deployed again to help in other areas of my life.

The solution could well be more small mindful meditations. Think it through more, remove the ego driven ‘just hit it’ attitude. Tell myself that I’m more than technically capable and do it, one hit at a time. Each time, for the situations that will really tax me I’ve grounded myself before. Gone through my lines and reinforced my self belief a little. Hopefully enough for me to be able to hold on long enough without that dreaded speed check. It sounds so simple when I write it down. In practice, it’s not. Wish me luck!




The Wakatipu Basin