Phys Ed: How to Overcome Fear on the Slopes

By Gretchen Reynolds, The New York Times
Originally Published: February 3, 2010

Peter Olenick, a 25-year-old freestyle skier and gold medalist in the Big Air skiing competition at last weekend’s 2010 Winter X Games, vividly recalls the first time he tried the Whiskey Flip, his self-invented marquee trick, a twisty, somersaulting double flip executed 20 feet or so above the halfpipe’s lip. “It was terrifying,” he says. “I didn’t even know if it could be done. But I’d been doing it over and over in my head, so I figured I could make it go right.” Some deep breaths, some mental finger-crossing and “I just kind of hucked it,” he says, landing cleanly, exhilarated. A second attempt was even “scarier. Now my body knew what was happening. But I did it. Fear kind of keeps all of us going.”

Fear may be the signature emotion of the Winter Olympics, prickling the skin hairs and sharpening the senses of all those athletes moving fast over slick, unforgiving surfaces. “Everybody feels fear out there, and I mean everybody,” says Ross Hindman, the founder and program director of the International Snowboard Training Centers in Colorado and California, which specialize in training midlevel and elite snowboarders. Fear affects those of us too who recreationally strap on skis, snowboards, skates or, more rarely, a skin suit in advance of a bobsled run. “The issue is how you deal with fear,” Mr. Hindman says… Click here to read on

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