Last month I went skiing in Big Bear Lake, CA with my brother and I hadn’t done that in over 3 years. It was an AWESOME experience because despite the long break, I had the best skiing experience than I’ve ever had before: I had more endurance, strength and best of all, I had seemingly endless amounts of balance. I quickly realized that this was my first time back on the slopes after a few years of having gotten heavily into things like bodyweight exercises, gymnastics strength training, slacklining, acro-yoga, mountain biking, surfing and so forth. I was so astounded to experience the profound cross-training effect from all the other fun stuff I’ve been doing. I took a few clips which I posted to instagram and I will share with you in this post:
With each run, I applied a different concept each time to focus on. Look ahead: In my teenage years, when I used to be into canyon driving, one of the rules I had learned was to look ahead as far as possible to where you want to go. I also learned that tip from this one speed-racing book called Inner Speed Secrets which I found very helpful back in the day. I also applied that same concept to mountain biking, which was crucial to not getting scared of the speed. Basically, the more ahead you look, the slower everything will be perceived as and the more you will stay in control. As opposed to looking down and everything rushing fast. The moment you think you’re going “too fast” you will automatically lose control because the concept of “too fast” means you can’t control it.
Relax: For my first run, my bro and I went down without stopping. When we got on the lift again, I told my brother that my ankles and front of my shins were burning up on the final leg. My brother told me you need to just relax. And for my next run, I did exactly that. Instead of being extremely tense, I kept my legs as relaxed as possible. I realized that my legs were strong enough that I could simply relax them and go down as fast as I wanted if I just TRUSTED that I could relax and the passive tension of my muscles were enough to keep my torso stable regardless of what my knees were doing.
You could see Big Bear Lake is somewhat frozen. And that’s my snowboardin’ brother! A video posted by Antranik Kinartna (@antranikdotorg) on
Pump: For the next lift up, my brother taught me how to “pump” the legs to go faster over humps, kind of like how he does while mountain biking. So when you’re going over a crest you bend the knees and as it drops you straighten the legs and push the earth away from you with your legs to speed up. So in a sense, your torso always stays in a similar position.
And here’s my bro showing how to get into camel pose on a snowboard:
If you’re not familiar with camel pose, I have a video tutorial of it here. Sometime in the middle of the day, I thought to myself, “When I ski, life is so good I want to kiss the earth.”
When I #ski, life is so good I want to kiss the #earth. Why? You connect with #nature. You see beautiful views. You test your limits. You breathe in fresh air fast like a bird swooping down.. What could be better? A video posted by Antranik Kinartna (@antranikdotorg) on
Why? You connect with nature. You see beautiful views. You test your limits. You breathe in that air to mimic what it may be like to breathe like a bird flying down a hill. What could be better.
Much to my own surprise, I thought of Dewey Nielsen during my little trip because I see him skiing in epic places AND demonstrating great moves with control and ease. I imagine he would totally own the mountains in the places he chooses to ski. He’s featured FIRST in my mobility project.
Dance! On my third run was when I really started to let go and I started to DANCE while skiing with my headphones on high. I was even doing windmill shoulder rotations (CARs) while bombing down the hill.
Slacklining! I found out that if I pretended I was slacklining at any point in time, that I had eternal balance and total control. The motor control I have to rebalance using my arms or body was astounding even for me. Basically, there was no way I was going to fall if I pretended I was on a slackline because it was supremely easy to keep my torso in an optimal position and my arms could compensate to hold the balance just like a slackline.
Not everything was funky dorey. I was getting on the ski lift once and fell off, hah. I quickly learned to avoid that by grabbing onto the rail on the chair next to you immediately when you get scooped up.
Skiing tips if you haven’t done it in a long time or never done it?
Let’s first not kid ourselves. Skiing is dangerous if you aren’t prepared for it. It’s not easy to do anything the first time when you’re new at it. But there are ways to make it easier. One of the best tips I have is to rent short ski’s and take a class if you never done it before. (Shops sometimes call these short ski’s as “snow blades.”) I don’t even need poles when I use short ski’s, but if you are new at this and want poles, they’ll give you even more control.
Short skis provide better balance, speed control, less fatigue, more confidence, and less anxiety. Imagine the ski is like an extension of a shoe… a shoe that’s 5-6 feet long and heavy. It’s much easier to move/turn a shoe that’s much shorter and lighter. The only drawback to short-ski’s are that they may not do well in extremely thick powder conditions. But if the slopes are groomed it kind of doesn’t matter.
One person commented on my short ski’s and I told them, “They’re great cause if I go to the bathroom, I don’t have to worry about someone taking my ski’s. What monster would steal a kids skis?!” We both chuckled at my corniness.
It’s also freeing to have short skis because if you don’t have poles then your hands are FREE! Like when I’m dancing, I can’t dance and express myself freely if I’m holding a drink or water bottle in my hand. It limits how much I could move my arms and that’s not as fun.
If skiing still sounds dangerous, another great option would be to do cross-country skiing as you don’t go very fast at all but it will strengthen your legs and arms. And you still get to be in impeccable nature.
Anyway, hope you liked this post! Leave a comment to share your thoughts. And if you want to read a similar blog post, you may like the one titled, “Drawing parallels from sports and applying it to life.“