Little Rippers means big FUN!

Years of building up and breaking down my body, sacrifice, pushing myself to the brink of collapse both physically and mentally, and quieting my exuberant soul until I’m as focused as a hawk… passing this knowledge and experience on to others makes it all worth it.

 Leaving limits behind.

Leaving limits behind.

January 7-10, 2016, I had the opportunity to coach 5 eager athletes in a Youth Paralympic Race Camp, with the support of Higher Ground Sun Valley. These athletes had all the energy and fire to truly go for their dreams. They were ready.

I had 3 days to convey to these young athletes, ages 9 to 16, everything that ski racing encompassed and the additional life skills I wanted them to take home, so that no matter whether they continued in their pursuit to ski race or not, they would have the confidence to keep moving forward. This was a lot of pressure I was inflicting on myself, but these athletes were important to me. They were like me and they were my mirror. If there was one thing I could impress upon them, it would be that they were enough for all their dreams!

 Watch and listen. Then watch and listen. Only then show and tell.

Watch and listen. Then watch and listen. Only then show and tell.

I decided to cram everything I knew about being an athlete and a ski racer, into 3 major parts: BALANCE, FLEXIBILITY, and PRACTICE. The next three days flew by, and in the end, did I really get every pointed I wanted to make across to these brilliant little rippers? No. Probably not. But the most important element of skiing was accomplished… TO HAVE FUN!!!  In the end, that’s really all that matters anyway. That’s why I started ski racing in the first place, and it’s the same reason I ski today! Because there is no other thrill like it!

For all of you who’d like to nerd out on my curriculum, here it is! 3 days of undeniable passion for this awesome sport!

 Zach Miller (bright orange helmet) US Paralympic snowboard team hopeful. Tim Ball (Blue HG coat) instructor to Zach, Alaina ONeill not shown but her board is, and myself.

Zach Miller (bright orange helmet) US Paralympic snowboard team hopeful. Tim Ball (Blue HG coat) instructor to Zach, Alaina ONeill not shown but her board is, and myself.

DAY 1: BALANCE
‘The best way to train for balance is to get off balance. It’s not always about having a clean run. Most times it’s about who recovers the quickest that succeeds.’  

Physical Balance: Strong core! Able to recover quickly in challenging circumstances. You mix up your workouts and cross train to keep good physical condition.

Mental Balance: Strong Thoughts! No matter what disappointments or successes come your way, you know who you are and are able to stay focused on your goal.

Heart or Emotional Balance: Strong Heart and Will! You have the determination to keep going for what you love and want. You are able to balance your athleticism with other aspects of yourself and those you care about.

 Doing some balance training in the gym with medicine and bosu balls.

Doing some balance training in the gym with medicine and bosu balls.

“The best way to find balance is to get out of balance.” -Lacey Heward

DAY 2: FLEXIBILITY
Flexibility is the ability to move in any given moment with one’s surroundings or situations. It is the ability to see ahead what’s coming, and problem-solve for the onset.

Physical Flexibility: Quick action! You see something coming and you are able to quickly adjust your body to respond to the situation.

Mental Flexibility: Open to new ideas! No matter how situations shift, change or stay the same, you can think outside the box in order to find helpful solutions.

Emotional/Heart Flexibility: Intuition! You know yourself better than any coach, teacher, or master. You are able to adapt the notions of outside forces to your own needs and abilities.

 Makaiah Danzer (black coat) with Lilly Davies instructing (blue coat). Makaiah was very fearful of moving forward down the steeper part of the hill, but eventually trusted herself to make the turns. She did awesome!

Makaiah Danzer (black coat) with Lilly Davies instructing (blue coat). Makaiah was very fearful of moving forward down the steeper part of the hill, but eventually trusted herself to make the turns. She did awesome!

DAY 3: PRACTICE
Every master has practiced their craft for 10,000 plus hours, to their entire life.

Practice is putting balance and flexibility into action on a regular basis. WHY? So that in any given situation, you can have total confidence in yourself that you can quickly recover, make decisions and solve problems for ULTIMATE FUN!

 The crew heads to Elkhorn lift off Dollar, for some pow turns.

The crew heads to Elkhorn lift off Dollar, for some pow turns.

When you can ski without thinking too much about it, your are totally FREE! And you know you can do anything and go just about anywhere and do what you love to do!

Practice requires dedication, a bit of obsession and desire to have TONS OF FUN!
The ultimate question is, do you have what it takes?

The ultimate goal of race camp may not be to race. But racing forces you to become a confident skier.
-Lacey Heward

Balance and Flexibility are both required to do practice, and practice makes your balance and flexibility stronger.

This day is dedicated to putting into practice what has already been learned.

Tap on photo below to see more photos.

Great big thanks to all that made this camp possible:
Higher Ground Sun Valley including Mose Duchano, Cara Bennett, Alaina ONeil, Lilly Davies, Kelly Boudwin, Tim Ball, Bruce Rogers, Erin Rheinschild, Rich Cardillo and Monty Heath. Thank you to guest coach, David Poole. Additional photos thanks to Nicole Williamson. Hotel and accommodations thanks to Sun Valley resort. Most important thanks to the great athletes I had the privilege to work with: Li Dunbar, Zach Miller, Jesse Keefe, Mikey Williamson, Makaiah Danzer and Ty Wiberg.