By Dan Egan EBS ski columnist
The freedom found in skiing and snowboarding is instant and rewarding. From the moment you point yourself downhill, gravity takes over and going with the flow often is the best decision. I often say, “don’t let a bad turn contaminate the next good one.” With that in mind, goal setting in 2021 will not be hard—the challenge will be to not drag 2020 forward to muddle the new year. My plan is to start small and work up to the big stuff.
It is here in the mountains surrounded by kindred spirits that I find my energy. When I ride up the lift and watch people gliding down the slope, something inside of me recognizes the connection others are having to this energy and I sit in anticipation of it. Then at the top I’m released, and push off joining this force, anchored in gravitation pull. My eyes search out the fall line, and with a deep breath I exhale in the first turn and enter into it free of the past. The world is forgotten—I’m at peace. So simple, so fun and so rewarding.
In talking to skiers and riders about the new year, people often tell me about their aspirations. They have purchased new gear, gotten in better shape, been praying for snow and are committed to new challenges, large and small. Some are going to take a lesson; others go with a guide and take a risk. Often there is a “bucket list” of runs and routes they hope to “check off.” These conversations are exciting, contagious and are easy to feed off of.
Then I ask them, “what is holding you back from doing these amazing things?” The answers tend to go across the board: “limited time,” “someone to go with,” “lack of experience,” “conditions haven’t been right,” “recovering from an injury,” “last time I tried I fell,” or “someone told me, I’m not ready.” To sum it up in general terms, it is the “I can’ts” and the “ya-buts” that keep us from accomplishing goals and these are tied to some sort of foundational fear anchored in the past.
I’ve never had such a list, yet I’ve gone to some amazing locations, stood on many a mountaintop, gazed at the surrounding beauty and dropped down some jaw-dropping routes. Over the years I’ve found that to find a way, you have to enter into the way—as the old Chinese saying goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” This saying always says to me, move forward, free of the past. The pace is not important here, moving towards the future is. With each pole plant, turn and run, I move away from the “ya-buts” and the “I can’ts” and enter into the way of doing connected to the belonging of the gravitational pull towards the future.
2021 will prove to be a fresh canvas, full of possibilities and it will be fueled by how we see it and what we attach ourselves to. 2020 was season of change. The worldwide pandemic connects us to each other consciously and subconsciously. This connection has led to community service, compassion and empathy while incorporating a new concept of social distancing, while masking our expressions. For me that has been hardest part not seeing facial expressions. I miss giving and receive a smile.
My resolutions this year will be tied to expressing my emotions and thoughts. I’m going to use each run to shake off the confusion of 2020 and embrace the potential of 2021 focused on family, friends and people I encounter along the way. My plan is to set the intention of showing my appreciation for others, share a social distance facial expression and move forward, one turn, one pole plant, one run at a time and embrace where the journey takes me.
Extreme Skiing Pioneer, Dan Egan coaches and teaches at Big Sky Resort during the winter. His steep camps run Feb. 25-27, March 4-6 and March 11-13. He is newest book, Thirty Years in a White Haze will be released in February, for pre-orders visit www.White-Haze.com for autographed copies.