By Kristen Ulmer
People ask me all the time why I started Ski to Live.
I want to tell you a story about my past you may find shocking. It explains why I started these evolutionary mindset ski and snowboard camps, and also illustrates the next top mindset tip.
When I was 22 years old I was competing in local Utah mogul competitions and generally coming in last place. Heck, I hadn’t even owned a pair of ski pants until two years prior — just competing in anything was a big step.
That summer, while my fellow competitors trained on snow at expensive camps at Mount Hood, Whistler or even South America, I decided to take a trip to Asia by myself. For 5 months. To work on my self esteem.
I had two rules on this trip. I made these rules because I realized my self worth was entirely based on the fact I was pretty, and could ski well. I realized I wasn’t going to always be pretty, or always ski well, and I thought I’d better find a way to build a more solid personal foundation.
My rules where this:
1. I would make myself as ugly as possible: wearing coke bottle glasses instead of contacts, not washing my hair and wearing frumpy clothes.
2. I was not allowed to tell anyone I skied.
On that trip, I volunteered for Mother Teresa’s House for the Destitute and Dying in Calcutta, India. I was robbed in the Philippines by a group of 30 scam artists and forced to leave the country at gun point. I almost lost my right leg to gangrene in Nepal. The challenging but magical summer ended and I came home.
The first mogul competition that next season was a special event for the entire west against the best technically trained mogul skiers in the country. I felt funny just being there. But I didn’t come in last place like usual. I won. I killed it, actually.
Within one single year, I then made it on the US Ski Team. That same year I also filmed 3 ski movies, and was subsequently named by four different ski magazines the best woman “extreme” skier in the world.
Here’s the math: I became world class at two different sports, in one year, without a single drop of technical training. I’d never had any technical training actually.
That trip forever changed my life and how I saw myself. We all hear mindset is everything in sports. Well, I know it because I lived it.
THAT’S why I started these camps. Now I teach it.
Tip #6 is this: shake yourself out of your comfort zone, take a bold step away from what’s familiar, and try something new. And I don’t just mean skiing with your boots unbuckled for a run.
Look to the infinite world and get creative! Shave your head for a cause. Wear tap shoes to the grocery store. Take a year off your sport to study Taoism. Get a cat instead of a dog.
It’s hard, I know. The biggest addictions we have in society aren’t drugs, alcohol or sex. Our biggest addiction is to who we believe ourselves to be. Those beliefs and habits are hard to crack. It’s rare when anyone truly expands outside the stone rock of their comfort zone.
But please, take a leap. Don’t ever turn to stone. Be an open, empty, upright cup ready to receive new teachings, to learn new things.
Because when learning happens, magic happens.