Why It's Never Too Late to Start Downhill Skiing

As kids we're fearless, learning as we make mistakes. The older we get, emotions like fear and doubt creep in, making it more difficult to learn new skills like language, playing an instrument, or taking on a new sport.

Although I have decades of outdoor experience under my belt, I only recently (after a few rough starts) discovered the fun of downhill skiing. I'm excited to have overcome a weak spot in my outdoor skills, and to have also learned a few reasons why it's never too late to pick up a new sport.

learning to ski Photo Courtesy of Nils van der Burg

Remember what it's like to be a newbie
How many times have you taken a newbie along on one of your regular adventures? In our enthusiasm to share our passions, we often forget what it was like to be new to the trail, or the rock, or the kayak. Facing those 'newbie' fears ourselves helps us develop more empathy for those who we might introduce and mentor in our more core activities.

What did I learn from picking up skiing late? Letting people progress on their own terms, and not comparing them to others helps them discover their own way. If I hadn't done that with myself, the 4 year olds screaming down the slopes around me would have sent me home in shame!

Use that gear that's been sitting in your closet
If you're reading the Sierra Trading Post blog you're likely as big of a gear addict as me. And as a gear addict who lives in a nice temperate climate, I have lots of stuff that doesn't get used that often. Like snow gear. That sure doesn't stop me from collecting too many puffy jackets, an abundance of beanies, and even a pair of ski goggles or two. It's nice to actually bust out the snow gear and use it!

Adults learn to ski

Change of scenery
I love hiking. I love climbing mountains. I love backpacking and paddling and running and a relaxed afternoon of fishing with my dog. Even in new terrain, these kind of sports have a slow, steady pace in which I enjoy the scenery. Skiing felt completely different. The relaxing ride on the lift and views from the summit felt familiar, but the rapid descent brought a completely different kind of enjoyment to the mountains for me. I'm also not used to enjoying the outdoors among a crowd. I usually seek solitude, but there's something fun about the encouragement I got from other skiers and an infectious giggle that I'd hear as people zoomed down the slopes around me.

learn snow skiing Photo courtesy of EaglebrookSchool

Learn how to Face New Challenges
Finally, it's important to remember that even though it is more difficult to pick up new skills as an adult, self confidence and discovery of a new passion is an incredible reward. As someone who usually feels strong and confident in the outdoors, I was disappointed with my first few outings on skis. I'm not used to feeling so uncoordinated and sloppy in my own skin. But by sticking with it, I've discovered something that I really enjoy and am looking forward to trying even more!

Late life learning is a key to keeping stimulated and motivated. Learning how to overcome obstacles outside of our core sports help us live a rich life by reminding us that the journey is as much as a reward as the destination!

posted by
Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd
Blogger at Calipidder.com
Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd is a hiker, climber, kayaker, and outdoor gear nerd from San Jose, California. You can find her on Twitter and at her website Calipidder.com, where she publishes useful advice for exploring the backcountry nooks and crannies of the Western United States.
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