By Steve Kopitz
Last week I had a chance to do something I rarely get to do. Ski an entire day alone. I was in Aspen on business and had a free day to myself. Now don’t get me wrong I love to ski with family and friends. I even like skiing with beginners so I can watch and help them enjoy the skiing experience. But it is totally different when you ski alone.
Going up the gondola I had an interesting conversation with the other passengers. When I got to the top I said good bye to my new never to be seen again friends. I then looked around at all the beautiful mountains and the gorgeous scenery. It was breathtaking. The top of Aspen Mountain is a very majestic place. I have been there many times before and I know I’ve been there when I was skiing with others but I didn’t really take the time to soak it in. It’s usually a quick “Isn’t that beautiful” and off we go. But being alone I had a chance to just stand there and soak it in.
After I was full of the awe inspiring scenery I plugged in my ipod, set it to one of my specially created “skiing playlists”, and was on my way. I started with those big wide open carving turns where you can really feel your edges grab, kind of like running a car around a banked turn on a race track. The centrifugal force working with me not against me. Soon the rhythm of my turns became in step with the song playing on my ipod. I felt like I was floating down the hill. As the songs changed so did my skiing style and rhythm. My body, my music and my skis were in total sync with each other. It is a very meditative feeling even better than yoga.
Now if I was skiing with family or friends I would have to be waiting for other people, watching which trail the front person in our group had chosen, taking up the rear so if any of the slower or newer skiers had a problem I would be there to help them, having to try to watch where the other people in my group were while I was trying to ski, or if I was with a group of better skiers being out of breath and needing to rest while the front skier is out of site and not stopping. Skiing alone I didn’t have to pay attention to anything but my skiing. I could stop when I wanted, rest as long as I liked, and take in some scenery along the way. Best of all, I didn’t have to pay attention to what run I was on or where it led.
I was so entranced by my skiing I never noticed the signs or the turn offs to the lifts and before I realized it I was all the way down to the base of the gondola. My legs were burning, my lungs were burning, I was having a great time. I took the gondola back up, watched a little closer at the signs the next time down so I could catch the chairlifts to stay closer to the top of the mountain. I then did it over and over until I could do it no more.
If you have never tried skiing alone I highly recommend you give it a whirl. Regardless of your skiing skill it is a great experience. You get to really focus on yourself and your skiing and nothing else. Remember skiing is not just a social activity, it can also be a very meditative and spiritual than can help to get in touch with what’s really important in our lives.