In my Max 4 ski lesson, I felt like George Costanza in the Seinfeld Episode, Opposite Day. In the episode, George decides that every decision he has ever made in his life has been wrong. Since his life is the complete opposite of everything he wanted it to be, with a little prompting from Jerry he decides to do the opposite of whatever his normal choice would have been. Today I learned that in skiing, if my body naturally reacts one way, I should do the opposite.
The lesson started with all the adult students skiing a run under the watchful eye of our green jacketed instructors. We were then grouped by our ability and the specific skills we needed to work on. Two guys and I were picked by Dan and we were off to explore Flagstaff Mountain. I jokingly asked Dan if he was going to teach us to ski backwards by the end of the day (as the instructors were demonstrating earlier as they watched us earlier) and much to my surprise, that is exactly what he did at the very beginning of the lesson. I was starting to realize this was indeed “opposite day” as we learned about balance skiing backwards.
My ski lesson buddies and I were to hear the word “counter intuitive” all morning. When we moved our body position the way were avoiding, we had more control. Doing this we learned to turn and control our speed making it easier to ski on the steep slopes. What amazed me was Dan seemed like he was always there giving me individualized attention even with three students. He’d work with me, then ski ahead to catch up with one of the guys and then the other. Then he’d watch me ski down and give me some pointers. Every lift ride was a lesson and then when we were ready, he led us to the blue runs. By the end of the three hours, we were cruising down the blues like no tomorrow. I couldn’t believe it!
We even tackled Star Gazer which was a challenge for me. I took a couple of tumbles on the steeper terrain because I reverted to the old habits (which I understand is typical for beginners). Was that bad? Of course not. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Dan was there to pin point the cause of the fall so I was able to learn and make corrections. His guidance anchored that lesson in my mind and improved my confidence. I also conquered some fears about falling and not being able to get up. Who knew that it is actually easier to get up on steeper hills than on the flat? Another counter intuitive aspect of skiing was etched in my memory. Because of Dan’s coaching, now instead of being intimidated by the hill, I think to myself, “Oh good, it’s steep! Easier to get up if I fall.”
When I got home, I looked at the Deer Valley Trail map on my wall and traced all the runs we did with a blue marker. I was shocked to see how many blue runs we did. I had not realized that we had done five as I stood there and took it in. As a beginner who’d stuck to green runs, it was quite surprising to see all the blue ink on my map. My first lesson was an outstanding success. Doing the opposite worked for George Costanza and today thanks to the skill of my instructor, Dan, it worked for me, too.