Ski courses for nervous skiers are hard to find and I'm not sure why. After all a huge number of skiers are nervous about it.
After ski school as I've written previously, you are pretty much on your own. Most skiers then ski with friends or relatives, or go on courses run by instructors of the ski school variety.
In almost every case they either don't understand your nervousness, don't take it into account, don't care, and wouldn't know how to handle it if they did. It's a specialised business, and very few instructors and virtually no recreational skiers understand it.
Should you be nervous?
You should certainly be cautious – mountains are dangerous places, although ski resorts have tamed them in you're on piste. But let's say you are on top of a “roll” on a blue run, where the slope takes on a slightly steeper section, and you find yourself suddenly feeling less than 100'5 confident.
This is an extremely common occurrence – if not on blue runs then on reds or blacks. There comes a time for all of us. We worry we will not be able to stop skiing too fast. Do we still remember how to stop on skis we wonder?
I argue that it is wise to be nervous, but only within limits. If it goes beyond nervousness and transitions into real fear, then you need to be someplace else. Your friends should never have brought you here, and your best bet by far will be to recruit their help to get you out of it. Take your skis off, make at least one of them do the same. Make them carry your skis, as a punishment, and walk off to somewhere you feel safe – perhaps even a lift to carry you down.
There is no shame in this at all. There is wisdom offering the chance to come back another day better prepared.
What makes you nervous on skis?
Is it silly or unjustified if you feel nervous? Probably not. More likely your sub-conscious, if not indeed your conscious mind, knows that what you are faced with is something nearer to your limit of technical ability. It may be suggesting that you will need to pay attention to how to control your speed on steep ski slopes, or some such.
If you have these feeling they are probably right!. But they are a call to gain your focused attention, not necessarily to make you stop doing it.
This is where attention to the fundamental elements of ski technique come to the fore. There is a huge amount of help in my online free video training courses. In Neuro Linguistic Programming there is a concept called “chunking down”. It's akin to the old adage that you can eat an elephant but you'll need to do it in small steps, not all at once. It's impossible to do it all at once. Unhappily when we give-in to fear when skiing, it scrambles our brains – we tend to view the situation as “all of a piece” as if it's just one huge problem. In fact we can chunk it down into simple individual elements.
Take the example above where we are standing on a “roll” on the piste staring wild-eyed at the steeper bit. Stop. Think. Take your time. Search for the simplest element of your skiing that you know you can do well. It's like remembering how to ski, all over again.
Being nervous on skis is no more than a call to act rationally. You're not about to suddenly lurch down the piste out of control. You could stand there for hours; safely. Now, then, is the time to break it down into what you do best.
Five things to do when you want to control your ski nerves.
Do you know how to make a “ski-turn” ? Of course you do. You made some on the way here. Close your eyes, relax, and think back to what you DID, to get them to do so. Go over the action in your mind.
Make yourself look more intelligently at the slope that is worrying you. It will not be the same all over. Chunk that down as well. Some parts will have more snow cover – probably nearer the sides. Some will be more polished (nearer the middle). Some bits will be less steep than the rest. Some will have safe run-off points, just in case. And so on.
Select one precise place on the piste, close to where you are, where you will (come what may) make your first direction change. Initially, make a decision that you will only make that one, and then you'll keep that arc until it stops. Then repeat.
Go to the effort of choosing what kind of arc you will make. Wide and open, or sharp and tight? Just making that decision you will find puts you in charge. That's important.
Finally, don't feel sorry for yourself. Remember it isn't what happens to us that matters the most, it's what we DO with what happens to us.
When you are nervous on a ski slope, your mind is telling you that you don't deserve to believe you can “handle it”. In fact, you DO. Even if you didn't, being nervous or even fearful need not stop you doing it.
As Dr Susan Jeffers wrote, you can “Feel the Fear, and Do It Anyway”.
I don't suggest you can suddenly cure all of your ski nerves, but there is so much help and explanation on www.bobski.com and my YouTube channel is simply there for the taking, that you really can be sure there are ways to become the skier you want to be. Just take it steady and persist: you'll get there.