When I speak to people who haven’t been skiing or snowboarding before I hear the word fear a lot. They talk about a fear of falling over and of hurting themselves, a fear of not enjoying it, of not being able to stop or of going down the slopes too fast.
But the good news is, some fear is good for you. And it’s natural. Everyone starts this great sport of ours with exactly the same feelings.
Any experienced skier or boarder will tell you (if they can remember that far back and are modest enough) that the first time they ever clipped in they thought they were going to fall over (and they probably did). Gentle bunny slopes (what beginners start out on) looked like sheer death defying runs, and turning? Well that was just impossible.
But after a day or two of practising their “Pizza & chips” or the “Falling leaf” (names given to beginner techniques) they soon found a confidence that let them move on.
Day 2 or 3
The only thing is, once you have got past those initial fears – your instructor throws you on to steeper runs (blue or maybe even red in your first week), maybe a chairlift or two and maybe even the freestyle park –somefear is always there.
Now, I say some fear is always there – many ski veterans don’t actually get scared on the slopes anymore. Mostly because they have reached the pinnacle of their comfort zone, know their limitations and are happy pootling along at their pace.
But there is always room to push yourself harder – if you want to.
Even Vonn is scared at times
As a beginner, it’s important to understand your limits. Believe me when I say there’s plenty of advanced (and scary stuff) out there for you to try with a few weeks of good quality piste time under your belts. A great example is the Harakiri run in Mayrhofen, Austria. I think the photo above says it all.
Do you think the likes of Shaun White (probably the best snowboarder ever) and Lindsey Vonn (probably the most famous female downhill skier in the world ever) have never had the fear? Of course they have. These guys push themselves to the limits every time they compete – where even the slightest error could see them in some serious trouble (Vonn is currently recovering from her worst injury to date). I would bet good money that little Lindsey on her first day on the slopes was at least a little bit anxious.
Fear is essential for adrenaline sports
- Fear makes you cautious
- Fear makes you concentrate
- Fear stops you doing anything too stupid
So, I am not saying go out and try something way over your skill level. This is when serious mistakes or injuries can happen. Take every success a step at a time.
Overcoming your fear is the best feeling. Completing your first full blue run or just making it off the nursery slopes gives a real sense of achievement.
My advice: give it a go and don’t let the fear beat you.
You never know, if you continue to confront your fears, Lindsey Vonn and Shaun White might one day be asking for your autograph.