Ski Inspiration #3: Training with Heart

photo credit: Droid Gingerbread

photo credit: Droid Gingerbread

Patty cake, patty cake may be just what’s needed. The game in which you clap your own and your partner’s hands requires eye contact or at least eyes on your partner’s hands. On the ski hill, keeping the game going by skiing backwards to face your student means the student needs to look up enough to see your hands. Looking up means looking forward and not looking down at the ground, which is helpful when going down a hill. That’s how a round of patty cake helped a little girl ski all the way to the bottom of the hill, which is why she raised her arms in victory like she won Olympic gold.

You need to think outside the box teaching kids. And with these kids, as it should be with all kids, the focus is on ability: the ability to move freely, learn, accomplish, participate, make friends, and do what other kids do. Having the opportunity to shine and be a part of something, not sit on the sidelines or watch out the window.

Every Track 3 volunteer says the same thing: once you start, it’s hard to walk away. I can see that. To quote Amy Bloom, “In the right hands, everything that you give, you get.” Patty cake and victory signs sound pretty good to me.

*On-hill training begins in January.  Instructor to student ratio is 1:1 or 2:1 and teaching methods are based on CSIA and CASI. Volunteers always needed.  Contact Ontario Track 3 Ski Association for the Disabled.

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Ski Tip from the Pro: Train Your Brain

It’s almost December and I need to get moving. Other than squats and ski tune-ups, what can I be doing to improve the likelihood of having a great ski season? I consulted my friendly CSIA Level II ski pro and he told me I should start skiing now. Well, a handful of snowflakes is not going to get me far. What he meant was start the season in my mind: visualize to improve performance.

Many elite athletes routinely use visualization techniques as part of training and competition. There are many stories of athletes who’ve used these techniques to cultivate not only a competitive edge, but also to create renewed mental awareness, a heightened sense of well-being and confidence.  All of these factors have been shown to contribute to an athlete’s sports success….With mental rehearsal, minds and bodies become trained to actually perform the skill imagined.             source: sportsmedicine.about.com

I’m not in the elite athlete category, but the benefits sound great so I’m happy to try. According to the pro, this is how you do it:

First, create a mental picture of what you want to achieve. The more detailed the picture, the better, so involve your senses and hear the sound of skis on snow, feel the wind on your face etc. (It’s been a while since I had a ski day, so thank goodness for CSIA and YouTube. Watching the technical reference clip refreshed my memory.)

Second, visualize frequently and consistently. Pick a time to take a ski run in your mind, before you go to sleep or right when you wake up.

That’s the very brief overview. If I do this right, these simple steps may help to train my brain (by creating new neural pathways, which I learned a bit about at the CSIA conference) and improve my self-confidence before the season even starts. They may also provide the basis for some very sweet dreams.

I’ve posted the clips I’m using to get a head start on my season.

  • CSIA’s Technical Reference
  • CSIA’s John Gillies & Natural Balance

  • CSIA’s John Gillies & Adding Skating to Your Skiing

Do you think it can work?  Can visualization make the difference?

Ski Inspiration #2: Starting with Why

Nothing like spending a day with 300 real life ski pros to get you thinking about winter.

I’m not an instructor yet, so I’m lucky to have a friend who is.  Last weekend I was invited to tag along and attend the Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance Fall Conference.

What I learned: this is serious business and these people are at the top of their game.  Elite athletes, physicians, early childhood educators, motivational speakers – all skiers, all passionate about what they do and all happily spending time learning how to do it better.  Lectures ranged from Sarah Pilskalnietis’ “Inclusive Teaching for Children with Autism” to John Gillies’ “How Brain Science Helps Define our Approaches to Learning and Performing” to Warren Jobbitt’s “Motivation and Mentorship“.

Jobbitt is currently the Head Coach for Interski 2015 in Argentina and his lecture focused on purpose, the ‘why’ rather than the ‘what’.  Inspired by author Simon Sinek and his views on inspirational leadership, he spoke of following your passion and harnessing that energy to drive something bigger than yourself.  Then he played a video for us.  This kind of video always grabs me, because I’m a traveller and a dreamer and an adventurer.  When you’re sitting with folks who live the ‘why’ every day, you realize sometimes life is even better than what you see in the movies.

Skiers, enjoy the 2:50 mark.

Ski Inspiration #1: Flying with Track 3

Snowflake

photo credit: Kelly Sikkema

I don’t need to be inspired to ski, but I can certainly be inspired to be a better person, reach higher, do more. Last weekend I had a taste of all three.

Friday night Track 3 hosted their annual Winterlude Carnival fundraiser at the Steam Whistle Brewery. Track 3 is a non-profit charitable organization that teaches children and youth with disabilities to downhill ski and snowboard. Giving disabled youth the freedom to fly is how their school program is described.

Over the course of the season, 450 volunteers get 200 kids outside to play in the snow and experience what many of us take for granted. There are 150 mentally and physically disabled children on the wait list. Once you add up the specialized equipment, travel costs and coaching, it costs approximately $1650 to get one child on the hill, hence the fundraiser.

Children waiting for the freedom to fly? Let’s help cut the wait list. How?

If nothing else, tell one friend about Track 3, and that friend may tell one friend and so on and so on. You may have someone in your midst who could make the difference between a name on a list and a child on the snow.