My fear of skiing and 10 things I learned about the fear fighting against it

My fear of skiing captured me the first day we met.To the extent that I cried on a slope which couldn’t make a pebble roll down. So this is how it all happened:

During a winter trip we decided to take ski lessons as a group. The instructor brought us to a gentle slope and showed us how to do the wedge (For the ones that haven’t heard about it: wedge is bringing the skis together at the tips while keeping the feet apart). When it was my turn to try, I was afraid of sliding forward too quickly so I moved with tiniest movements which didn’t make my skis move. I should have spent too much time so the instructor told me “Go back, we gotta work too long with you” and called another friend to try. This friend looked like a figure skater on her first try and got all the compliments from the instructor. (Not everybody was as scared as I was but she was far too talented compared to me as she has been rollerblading)

For a few winters after this lesson I tried to implement what I learned,  I couldn’t even stay standing on the skis. Once my boyfriend at the time (current husband) wanted to show a few techniques on the baby slopes. I remember not being able to let go and crying like a baby out of fear.

I will beat you ski!

Growing up in İzmir, I saw snow in Istanbul during university for the first time in my life. Now I live in Munich. It snows all winter. Ski resorts are in a few hours’ drive. And one should take advantage of that. Also my husband enjoys skiing and I don’t want to sit and wait when he goes skiing. But the most important reason is that I want to win over my fear. I told a friend of mine that goes snowboarding like crazy that I was very scared. She mentioned me about a ski course. She told me that they teach everyone in someway and everybody that took this course was very satisfied. So I contacted the course right away.

The name of the course is Parallel Skiing. Unlike the traditional teaching method, they don’t teach wedge, but start with the parallel position just from the beginning. One starts the training with short skis (Short as 65-80 cm) to get used to the presence of and moving with the skis. Each day of training, the size of the skis increase. The course is composed of 3 weekends. All participants and instructors travel to ski region on friday evening, stay together, have the instruction on saturday and sunday full day and return on sunday after the instruction. The skis, boots and poles are provided by the course.

The info evening was held at the house of the instructor that organizes the course. After giving us some information about the course, he showed us some movements to do with the plastic skis he gave us. We learned afterwards that he determined our level based on our movements. We also practiced falling down and getting up on slopes on a cushion that he put on the floor. (If you fall, you turn to lie on your belly, facing uphill, your skis facing downhill, you place your feet together on the heels and make a V shape with your skis and get up with the help of your hands on the snow.) During the info evening we also had the boot fitting in the cellar of the house. We selected our boots, wrote our initials on them and left.

Right before my first weekend on the course  I caught cold. My nose was running while we were driving.

On Saturday I started with 80 skis. We tried to get used to our skis. We held hands and walked left and right and jumped on a flat surface. We learned to walk uphill (Skis perpendicular to the slope of as reverse V, edging the insides of the skis)

Then we worked on getting used to the slope. We lined up from up to down on the hill with space between us. The person standing on the top passed between the people shaking their hands with little steps and joined to the line as the last person on the line. If one didn’t make one step so little one was sliding. I lost my balance a bit and started getting scared. The instructor realized my fear and send me to a slower group.

Then it was time to learn the turns. Each instructor was holding a long pole from the middle. Two students were joining him on each side and holding the pole with him. As the instructor was lifting the pole up and putting back down saying “and right” we were turning our skis to the right and when he said “and left” we were turning our skis to the left. By doing that we were skiing down the hill doing zigzag. We repeated this exercise 5-6 times. Then the pole disappeared and we held the hand of the instructor during the same exercise. After a few trials of that, it was time to just hold the glove the instructor was holding.

The next exercise was hockey stop. The instructors planted two poles on a gentle slope. We were supposed to ski down, lift our arms up while passing between the poles and then stop by turning our skis perpendicular to the slope. An instructor was waiting to catch us below the poles in case we fell. When it was my turn I didn’t know what to do. I felt I was going to speed up too quickly if I started skiing. I wasn’t sure if I could really pass through the poles. I had suddenly a lot of thinking, measuring and fear. The instructor waiting down at the gate asked me if I was scared. When I said “a bit”, he asked me to move aside and later brought me to a station where I started working with another instructor and a few other students. There it was less steep and we had to work on stepping on one foot then the other. To come back to the station we were using the baby lift (where a rope pulls you up) and t-bar. I also fell from the lifts many times which wasted a lot of time, made me very tired and decreased my self-confidence.

I lost a lot of time and chance just because I said I am scared and I didn’t put myself forward.

On the second weekend of my third-weekend-long course I wanted to repeat the first weekend training as I was lagging from behind and missed a lot of exercises. This time I put myself forward even if I was scared, that was a takeaway from the first weekend. I tried every exercise without hesitation. I did things I couldn’t do on the first weekend.  I learned hockey stop. I learned zigzag turns, shifting weight from one foot to the other. The instructors planted poles downhill with spaces between them. We learned to ski down between the poles. We practiced turning at the right time. We raced down the mountain. I could do them all and felt so good. There were times I felt, I made a wrong move but I kept on doing, kept on trying without hesitation and that weekend was a big success for me.

fear_of_skiing_i_will_beat_you_ski

I took the lessons of second weekend on my third weekend. This time we learned to use the poles. At the end of the first day we took the lift to the top of the blue slope where we had the apreski and we skied down after some drinks. That was a huge step for me! On the second day we went up to the red slope.  We left the lift after 15 minute ride thinking “this must be over already” which was actually the middle of the lift. Where we left there was deep snow and we drowned in it! So the red slope started badly for me. When I got myself together and started skiing I fell after every second turn. After a few falls I was so frustrated I had a nervous breakdown. I took some deep breaths and rested for a few minutes and then skied down somehow. My group rushed to the lift to go up again but I decided to wait for them at the hut. I finished that weekend with a feeling of unpleasantness low self-confidence.

I didn’t ski more in 2015. I had other things to do, the weather was not that good and on top, I didn’t feel like it. But this year I decided to nail it.

I am determined to make it this time

This time I started with the second weekend’s training. My skis were 120 cm. As always we tried to make friends with our skis using the baby lift and skiing down the gentle blue slope. I didn’t forget skiing but I was excited as always. We worked on shifting weight and using poles during the day. As I was repeating the second weekend, I was confident and letting the newbies go before me. In the late morning, we were told to ski down and meet at the lift. I saw some newbies hesitating and waited for them to ski first. When I arrived to the lift an instructor drew a line with his pole in front of me and told me that I was in the second group. The people who started skiing down before me got to be in the faster group and I was in the slower group. I was pissed off. I was thinking I was doing favor but I was once again left behind due to my ego.

During the day we had exercises about balance, usage of poles etc and had our videos taken in order to be reviewed and given feedback by instructors at night. I was fine till video shoot and then during the shoot I fell. I was getting used to the t-bar, I was getting on and off without stress and without falling down..,. until the slopes started to get icy. On a ride up I thought to myself „It is so icy, I can fall down”. And on the next ride up I did. It was difficult to find the slopes after the fall but once I did I skied without a problem.

I was feeling tired on Sunday. This time my skis were 130cm. 10 cm change showed itself as such a big difference. I had to do the technique clearer and with more movement to make the longer skies turn. We had pole exercises again on Sunday. But that day –maybe due to tiredness I lost my balance and fell more often. There was one time that I fell with a high-speed and hit my head. Thanks to my helmet, I could get up and go on.

In the afternoon we went up to the red slope.  It was a huge success for me to step down the looong t-bar at the end of it without falling down. I again fell many times on the red slope. I realized the mistakes I made. I was turning my upper body too much, more than how much my skies were turning and then my weight was falling backwards and as a result I was falling down. It was difficult to get the skis on after you lose them on the steep terrain. I made my classmates wait and that made me feel ashamed and guilty. When we reached the bottom of the slope, I told my group that I wanted to give a break. They went up again. I ran into my husband and told him with wet eyes “I am going to quit, I cannot do this. “. “I started to learn skiing just because you ski and I didn’t want to get bored waiting for you but I don’t enjoy it, it is not fun.” “Don’t quit” he said. He reminded me that I had started actually to win over my fear. He was right. I ordered a beer. I thought a bit. I was doing this for myself. Of course I was going to fall while I was learning. This was in the nature of learning. Everybody had a different speed of learning. And this was my speed. When I fell, the only thing I could do was to get up and continue. Feeling sorry that I was making people wait neither did any good to me nor the people waiting. On the contrary it was giving me harm as it was inhibiting my concentration and making me get stuck.

I joined my group when they came down the mountain. I fell again but I got up quickly and continued.

I started the 3rd weekend’s training with stress. When we arrived to the ski resort my heart was beating hard. I wasn’t scared of falling but I was scared of not being able to succeed, making the group wait, not going a step further and struggling without any result.  This time my skis were 130 cm long. I found out that I was put in the slowest group. We started in the blue slope. This time I was one of the best, if not the best of the group but we were doing the same things that we did on the second weekend. I was skiing down quickly and waiting for the others to come. I needed this slow start because it gave me enough time to make friends with my longer skis. In the afternoon our instructor sent me to a faster group. Yay!

In the afternoon we had the video shooting. I started neat, I was doing short turns with a rhythm. But there again I fell! I got up quickly smiling at the camera and continued to ski. We were going to watch the videos at night all together. I thought everybody would laugh at me and remember me with my falling down although I had skied very well. I felt sad. After the video shooting, we went up to the red slope. This time I skied down the red slope two-three times without complaining, crying and being one of the first ones to start skiing (of course it wasn’t without falling.). The conditions of weather challenged us with ice and moguls and many people fell down. I wasn’t feeling bad or angry while I was waiting for the people to stand up after a fall. So probably I hadn’t made anyone feel bad when I had fallen down. At night while watching my video the instructors found the way I ski quite good and my fall as typical and they didn’t care about it.

On Sunday we went to another ski resort due to bad weather conditions. My skis were 140cm. I was really surprised noticing how excited I was. This meant that the excitement didn’t disappear but I could move despite of it.

In this ski resort gondolas were the only way to reach to the slopes. I remembered that I was also getting nervous from the height. O_o(I had a memory from my childhood concerning an amusement park that caused this fear). I got on the gondola for the first time. I was a bit shaken by the fact that the skis were hanging down freely in the air. I stopped myself before I developed potential scenarios. The gondola stopped a few times, swung back and forth but thank God I got off it pretty well. I got happy about it and hugged my fellow students and instructor.

That day we focused on carving and exercises to keep our upper body on the fall line. Of course I fell. But I got up quickly and keep my spirits high. In the afternoon we practiced on red and blackish red slopes. The slopes were full of ice and moguls but we made through. At the end of the day we missed one gondola and had to ski down a slope that we didn’t want to use. It was flat for a long time. My skis were not sliding. I had to push myself with the help of my poles. Then snow that stuck under the skis limited the smoothness of the base. I stopped, cleaned the snow, and continued but then again I had to stop. It was annoying. There was no one left around. I was tired. Thank god that the slope started to become just a bit steep. It was more like a motorway than a slope. I skied down controlling my speed, without falling down. The two people who went before me were already down and the people who stopped like me in the middle were too much at the back. I skied down the mountain alone with high-speed 15-20 minutes.  Snow was entering my eyes. In the end I managed to reach down. It wasn’t fun but I made it and I was proud of myself. And so I finished my ski course. During this course I learned a lot of things not only about skiing but also about facing fear and reaching goals.

10 things I learned about the fear fighting against my fear of skiing

  1. Don’t let the fear stop you. When you do the thing that scares you, your fear may or may not disappear but you can act despite the fear and this is your power!
  2. Find someone you trust and share your goal with this person. Ask him or her to never let you quit.
  3. Start to move. Don’t wait. Begin. When you begin, things will develop, you will develop, you will know what you have to do and you will do it. Or you will make a mistake and learn from the mistake. But things will happen only when you will begin.
  4. Don’t think about what the others will say about you. It doesn’t matter what others think about your goal. You are there for yourself. When you start thinking about others, you start judging yourself from the eyes of others. You stand against yourself not with yourself. It is impossible for you to succeed if you stand against yourself. Take your own side. How would you react if your child made a mistake? Would you say “You are stupid, you have no talent!” or would you encourage her and ask her to try again? Treat yourself like you would treat your child.
  5. It is ok to make mistakes. Just go back to game and keep on!
  6. Share your goal with the people you trust. They might bring new ideas or solutions.
  7. Realize how much you have already achieved and celebrate your little successes!
  8. If you are exhausted and make mistakes due to exhaustion, give a break.  Clear your mind, find your strength and then continue.
  9. Visualize yourself achieving what you want. Whatever you visualize becomes a reality. If you visualize failure that might become reality as well.
  10. Go forward with tiny steps, continuously. When you make tiny steps, you will go faster. At some point you will look back and see that you achieved huge things.

 

Do you also have fears that you want to win over? Do you have dreams that are blocked due to certain fears on the way? Please share them on the comments

Love,

Işıl

2017-05-18T10:28:46+00:00

13 Comments

  1. Johan 01/03/2016 at 7:10 am

    Great Blog, Really interesting to see the course through your eyes, I learnt a lot.

    Good on you for sticking at it. Glad you are a skiier now!

    • Işıl 08/03/2016 at 1:26 pm

      Thank you for the comment and thank you for encouraging me on my first day on the course to keep on and realise how much progress I have made!

  2. parallel_skiing@gmx.com 08/03/2016 at 12:41 pm

    It’s good to see our ski course throught the eyes and mind of someone taking our ski course. You’ve brought out strentgths and weakness of our ski course. At first I wanted to use somethings you say in the instructors manual and on our website, but you’ve said it so perfectly. I will send a link to your blog to your fellow course takers from the last two seasons. Hope thats OK.
    Ken Lawler Parallel Skiing

    • Işıl 08/03/2016 at 1:22 pm

      I loved our ski course, I am delighted that you found what I wrote useful (did I mention any weakness really?) and would be very happy if you share it with our lovely people. Thank you Ken for making skiing possible for me!

      • parallel_skiing@gmx.com 16/03/2016 at 7:34 am

        You didn’t notice it. Since you started on 80cm skis (longer than usual) that meant that you started in a faster group. You were in that group because you had skied before. Starting only this season the signup sheet included some questions that evaluated fear of skiing. If you had started this season and answered those questions, you would have started in the right group.
        Ken

        • Işıl 17/03/2016 at 4:03 pm

          Hi Ken, I am not sure if I started with the 80cm. If you could check and find out indeed that the skis were shorter, I would like to correct it accordingly. But it was definetely a good idea to ask about the fear!

  3. Lia Medrano 10/03/2016 at 10:15 am

    You can give now a nice motivational presentation in one of my business workshops Isil!. I specially like your summary in the last 10 things you learned from this enriching experience.
    See you in the slopes!

    • Işıl 10/03/2016 at 1:59 pm

      Hi Lia, thank you for commenting here and I am happy that you liked what I wrote. Which business workshops are you talking about? Tackling public speaking is the next on my list;)

  4. Flora 16/03/2016 at 10:54 am

    Great to hear of your experience and how you overcame your fear. I’ve completed 3 weekends of ski lessons and am now at the v. low confidence and totally terrified of skiing stage – I had pretty much decided that me and skiing weren’t compatible. Now I’m wondering if I could get through the fear stage like you have. Hmmm… to be honest, I feel stressed just even thinking about it – but I’m super impressed at how you managed to get back out there. That takes a lot of courage! 🙂

    • Işıl 17/03/2016 at 4:00 pm

      Hi Flora, thanks for sharing your experience. To tell the truth, I am shaking everytime I arrive at the mountain, eve-ry-freak-ing-time! But I still do it anyway. The fear doesn’t dissappear. But it is decreasing by time. It decreases as skiing gets familiar. As I get more references of what happens when I do what. With every run I add a score to “I can do that” or “Oh, this didn’t seem to work out that way, let’s try another way”. I increase the references of how I react to a certain condition. We need to go out there and fall more, trip more, turn more, run more to get all the references we can get and fear cannot stop us. It can stay and watch. I read this the other day and it made sense to me: “Bravery is not the absence of fear. Bravery is feeling the fear, the doubt, the insecurity, and deciding that something else is more important.” Is what way is going up there and skiing down again important to you? Hope to see you on the slopes or by apreski!

      • Flora 17/03/2016 at 5:48 pm

        Hi Işıl, thanks for your reply – you are one brave lady! 🙂

  5. Mike C 21/03/2016 at 10:15 pm

    Işıl – really good to read your story and hope you (and Flora for that matter!) keep tackling those fears!

    • Işıl 22/03/2016 at 8:22 am

      Thank you Mike for your support on the way! Will do.

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