Once upon a time, there was a young girl. Blonde hair, a brown snowsuit, and tears running down her chubby red cheeks. Under her feet bounded skis. She was standing on the top of a red ski slope. She cried her longs out. She was too scared to go down. The fear was in every muscle of her body. It was icy, and so steep! For twelve years I suffered from a fear of skiing. A fear I’m over now. This is my story, and these are my tips to get over your fear or skiing.
I learned to ski when I was six years old. That went fine. I had a good technique (the best of my family) and I went of the blue slope with a rush. But once I saw red-colored poles and signs of the red run, I blocked. I couldn’t do it, I didn’t dare it. I wasn’t sure what the reason was. I know I hated ski school lessons, with the German ski instructors who shouted cheerfully that we would ‘go up tomorrow’. All the way up the mountain. So high! I couldn’t sleep of fear the night before. And with a lump in my stomach I joined my class the next day. Dozens of times I begged my parents if I could please stay home. I was terrified. But I had to, after all the lessons were already paid for.
I wasn’t only afraid of heights (not useful on a mountain), I also was afraid of not having my skis under control (especially if it was icy). Until I came up with a plan: I would go snowboarding. It seemed cool, and besides, I could start on the lower slopes, because I would be a beginner. I didn’t have to go up on the mountain! But now I look back it was the dumbest thing I could do. I was afraid to lose control and I was about to do something where I absolutely had no control over: snowboarding. Really f*cking clever, Milou. At the end of the day it only worsened my fear.
The following years we didn’t go skiing, for several non-related reasons. In the beginning it felt great, because I didn’t have to feel the fear. Until I started to miss skiing after a few years. The sun, the fresh air, crunchy snow, wind in your hair, the beautiful nature. I thought it was strange. How could I miss something that I feared so much?
Last year I decided to go to SnowWorld with my boyfriend (who has 15 years of snowboarding experience). Who knows, I though, maybe after a few years my fear would be gone? I wanted to try it. Like a scared bird on skis I slithered into the ‘children’s park’. A mound of barely three meters high. Wobbly I came down. I was scared, even on that little bump. But after a few times I noticed that I got more and more control. The technique that I had, returned. And piece by piece, I climbed higher up. After about 45 minutes of trying, I was at the top of the beginner slopes. After an hour and a half I tried the ski jump in the fun park. And after two hours I went off the advanced slopes. Which, from what I read, exists for a quarter of a black slope. BLACK!!! I had never done that before!
A few weeks later I went to Winterberg for the weekend. Very nervous, ofcourse. Because this was a real mountain. There were probably ravines (no), steep slopes (yes) and icy slopes (yes). But it went well. I wasn’t scared anymore, and raced down the slopes. I enjoyed! It was my second trial since my skiing trauma. And again I had no problems. I only had fun, and I was the one who wanted to stay on the slopes longer. My father almost fell off his skis when he saw how much I had changed.
I hope that my story can show that there is still hope for someone with a fear of skiing. You too can enjoy it. I don’t claim to be an expert, but these are my tips that helped me overcome my fear of skiing:
1. Take a break
I think I can let go of my fear by not forcing myself. If the thought of skiing makes you sick, it might be a good idea to skip it for a year. My few years without skiing meant I could grow over it.
2. Visit a ski hall
A big part of my fear was that I was afraid that I didn’t have any control over my skis, and would ski into the abyss. Not really rational, but that’s how fear works. The fact that I visited a ski hall, without ravines and dooming death, gave me the chance to regain confidence in what I could. I noticed that I could trust myself.
3. Don’t look down
I can say ‘don’t think too much’, but it doesn’t work that way (though it is the truth). What helps me the most, is simply not looking down. I focus my gaze only a few meters in front of me to see where I can go, and I don’t stop to look all the way down. You don’t need to. As long as you see where you’re going, you will automatically come down.
4. Trust yourself and take it easy
Need a break? Then take a break. (Don’t look down!) If you don’t want to go of the red slope, but only of the blue ones? Then you do that. There is no ski police. I don’t want to do the black slopes, but the red and blue ones I do. It’s not a contest. Trust yourself and your skis. Swing your arms loose, take a deep breath, and act like Dory from Finding Nemo (‘just keep swimming, just keep swimming’), but then: small turn, small turn, small turn. And when you’re in the moment, you are naturally going to enjoy it.
By staying calm, trusting in my abilities, and always going a little step higher, I overcame my biggest fear after seven years. A few year of rest, getting mature, take risks in the everyday life, and there I went. Since my ski comeback I only fell once (and aside from a bruise nothing happened). After all those years of fear I can enjoy skiing again. Last winter I even thought about living in a ski resort for a season. Say what? Nothing is as changeable as a human being.