By Dan Egan EBS Contributor

I’m never ready for a fall, especially the first fall of the season. But it happened on my first day, skiing down between the bumps and the ice, and then bam! It happened so quickly.

I went down hard on my left side with my arm tucked in tight against my body—the impact was on my hip, arm and shoulder.

Grunting as the wind got knocked out of my lungs, and while lying there on the slope I took a mental inventory of body parts. Then I stood up, looked around and there was no one on the trail. Chuckling, I said to myself, “I’m good, no one saw it.”

As I sidestepped up the hill to get my pole I shook my head and mumbled, “What happened? One minute I was up, the next I was down!”

The whole incident made me think that all summer, while dreaming about the winter season ahead, falling hard on the first day was not part of the plan.

Riding the lift up for another run I came to the following conclusions:

I was skiing a bit passively, my upper body was leaning in and I was daydreaming. This combination had me out of balance with a low edge angle and not enough awareness of the snow conditions.

And as I pushed off to ski the same trail again I realized I was now tentative and skiing with a bit of hesitation, which was creating the same situation as the run before.

So I stopped and refocused, took a couple of deep breaths, looked around at the scenery of the December winter day and became more aware of my surroundings. Then I looked closely at the slope below and visualized myself skiing around and over the bumps and ice.

Next I smiled and shook my body for a few long seconds, the first fall of the season was out of the way, winter was here and I pushed off down the fall line with the anticipation of not falling anytime again in the near future.

Extreme skiing pioneer Dan Egan has appeared in 12 Warren Miller Ski films and countless others. Today he teaches clinics and guides trips at locations around the world including Big Sky, where he’ll be teaching Feb. 23-25, March 2-4 and March 9-11, and throughout the season (contact Big Sky Mountain Sports for availability). Find more ski tips from Dan Egan at skiclinics.com/education/skitips.