6 Things You’re Probably Doing Wrong While Skiing

February 16, 2015 Leave a comment

This article first ran on the Liftopia blog, and was just reprinted on Business Insider. It got more comments than anything else I’d written, mostly because Evan was honest/cheeky enough to say the T-word. Tips. It keeps service industry staff alive.

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When I taught skiing, the most common question I’d hear from clients, no matter what their level of proficiency, was: “So, what am I doing wrong?”

Well, that would be the first thing you’re doing wrong.

1. Worrying about what you’re doing wrong.

The brutally honest answer to that question is: You don’t want to know. It will suck up all the fun, make your head explode, and torpedo your morale.

The brain doesn’t operate constructively by focusing on the negative. If I say to you, “What you’re doing wrong is thinking about pink elephants. When you ski this next run, just don’t think about pink elephants. Think about hugging a bear,” I’ve basically offered you a recipe to have a mind-messed-up run thinking about elephants doing horrible things with pink bears while hating yourself and deciding you can’t do anything right. Fun-O-Meter? Zero.)

It’s better to start with a clear positive foundation… as in: Here’s something you’re doing right. Now here’s something to focus on doing to improve your experience.

But don’t believe me when there are actual experts around.

I reached out again to my on-call brain-trust, the pros who work in Whistler Blackcomb’s Snow School on the MAX4 program, and asked them to share the most common mistakes skiers make.

2. You’re buckling your boots the wrong way.

Last post, Ralph Forsyth dished on how to avoid the crowds. This time, the level 4 CSIA pro behind @SkiTipDuJour, redresses the most common mistake skiers make before they even get on the chairlift.

Friends, you’re buckling your boots the wrong way.

Ralph says that you’ve got to fasten that wide, Velcro power strap that wraps around the top of your boot, first, before you even snap a buckle closed.

“Make sure your long johns or base layer and socks are smooth and wrinkle-free and that the tongue of the boot is snug around your shin and calf. Then, with the buckles still undone, fasten the power strap nice and tight. Next, fasten the buckle that is second from the top. Stand up, flex the boot a few times and fasten the top buckle to ‘lock in’ your heel. Now fasten the third and fourth buckles from the top. Fastening your boots this way will make them feel ‘squishier’, and you’ll ski with more control and confidence.”

SkiTipDuJour shares a video on how to properly put on your ski boots.

skiingFlickr/efilperaDon’t look for the obstacles you’re tying to avoid.

3. You’re so afraid to suck that you’re stuck in a rut.

Caroline Perrin is too professional to come out loud and say that you’re boring. Instead, the 16-year veteran pro explains it thus:

“Skiing is an open-skilled sport.”

That means, it’s not like swimming or gymnastics or shooting hoops, where the environment is predictable, and you can do the exact same movement the same way and expect the exact same outcome. Those activities are essentially quests for perfection.

In skiing, there is no perfect move or position.

“There is so much variation from one day to another and one run to another that it is impossible for a recreational skier to do the right thing all the time. Seek ways to make it easier, safer and more fun. Expand your toolbox. Someone invented sliding down a snowy slope on planks of wood for a reason, so give up on perfection and instead find ways to make life on the slopes a constant adventure. That’s the fun of it.”

4. You’re clenching your jaw.

Glen Irvine is a professional musician, teacher, and long time WB ski instructor who spends his off-season cycling around Europe and guiding hunting trips in the Yukon. His advice, passed down to him from his favorite yoga instructor, applies equally to playing jazz, taking down a moose, or skiing: “Tension is easy. Relaxation is hard.”

Glen says that human beings, as a species, tend to have difficulty relaxing. “With skiers, this emotional tension translates into unnecessary muscular tension which makes it very difficult to execute, technically or tactically. It certainly makes it difficult to create fluidity while skiing.

“Certain muscles must fire during the turn, but just as many muscles should be allowed to relax. Next time you’re skiing on an easy run, try scanning the body to determine which muscles are retaining unnecessary tension—You might be surprised. Focus on the muscles that relax in a turn, rather than those that fire.

“Here’s a fun little technique that a past student of mine once suggested. She was an Olympic level equestrian coach who, when confronted with an excessively tense rider, encouraged him to breathe deeply and fluidly and ride with a relaxed face and jaw. Try this when you’re skiing. You’ll be amazed at how much unneeded tension flows out of the body. Your skiing will become more relaxed, more fluid, calmer and you’ll have a greater sense of well being.”

skiing down a mountainFlickr/TrysilDon’t let fear keep you from growing.

5. You’re looking at the obstacles you’d rather avoid.

Dave Hobson oversees the MAX4 alpine crew and has been teaching skiing since he was in high school. More recently, he trains a crew of top-level instructors, has introduced them to myofascial stretching, and spearheaded a series of ski skill-boosting sessions for ski patrollers.

He says, “Skiers have a tendency to look at the hazard. They focus on the trees, rather than the opening. That is just a recipe for skiing into a tree.

“You’ve got to focus on the spaces between the trees. Look ahead. Look at the line you wish to follow.”

6. You’re not tipping your instructor enough. (If at all.)

The delicate art of tipping is not often spoken of – for some, it’s a little too gauche. But Evan Taylor, nail-banger, Race Director of IRONMAN Canada, and aspiring Level 4 pro, is willing to brave it.

“As an Australian, the whole tipping scene is a foreign concept but having spent the majority of the last 14 years in North America, I’m slowly warming up to it.

“There’s not one ski instructor in the Whistler Alpine Pod who doesn’t give all they have during a lesson, no matter what the climate or snow conditions. For the Alpine crew, giving all we have means not only being a ski instructor but a personal psychologist, restaurant critic, accommodation specialist, tour guide, marriage counselor, child care specialist, boot-fitter and maitre’d at the Roundhouse. (My advice to apprehensive clients when standing on the top of double black diamond runs is simply ‘If you think this is hard, wait until we try and find a table for lunch at Roundhouse’.)

I love the line in The Matrix Reloaded when Seraph tells Neo “You do not truly know someone until you fight them.” The same goes for skiing. You don’t truly know someone until you have them ski a run that’s well out of their comfort zone.

“No matter what their confidence, personality, profession, education or social status, when you take complete strangers to the top of a run that they would not have otherwise gone to, their eyes, movements, speech or lack thereof, give away their true identity.

“Our clients come for ski lessons but if I’ve done all I can, they go away with more than ski tips. They go away learning more about themselves than they would have ever imagined.”

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Why I Don’t Need Another Photo of my Sleeping Baby

February 10, 2015 Leave a comment

There is a microsecond long window when a baby falls asleep that everything is right in the world.

My personal victory today? Resisting taking a photo of that moment.

The kid is 23 months old, so I already have approximately 700 photos of him sleeping, none of which have successfully managed to evoke the heart-swell I get when his little body finally goes slack and his face relaxes into a kind of angelic softness.

I’ve hypothesized that the real reason a sleeping baby is so lovely to behold, is because, for that tiny fraction of time, you can stop worrying about what you’re doing, whether you’re stimulating their brains sufficiently, feeding them the right foods, you can stop resenting the things you’re not getting done while you’re sitting on the floor stacking a tower of blocks for them to knock over again.

For that tiny little moment in time, there’s nothing you ought to be doing for them.

When that stillness descends, everything in me relaxes, and I want to hold fast to that snag in the fabric of foreverness, before the tidal wave of all the things I need to do with this sleep time comes crashing in. So I snap a fuzzy picture. #Nap-selfie.

Reaching for the camera in my pocket has become a twitch. It’s my default weapon against time’s slipperiness. I need to stop.

Every Sunday on the Wellness Almanac, one of four local photographers shares an image from the ‘hood. For Gary Martin, Dave Steers, Polek Rybczynski and Ruben Guibert, photography is an act of mindfulness or creative expression, community building, a way to pay deeper attention, or a kind of witness, and I look forward to their submissions every week and to tracking the seasons through their lenses.

I’m grateful for that kind of photography. For people who share their perspective on the world, for the documentarians and the instagrammers. I’m grateful for technology, the ease with which we can make a photographic record, and share it with whomever, whenever, instantaneously.

I love that even we non-professionals can use these images as a shorthand, to communicate with each other, or as a daily log, as Bettina Falloon did for her 50 Day Wellness Challenge.

Falloon wrote about her challenge, to ensure every day got a dose of “mindful brain goodness,” on the blog this week. “My challenge was also to include a photograph of what that goodness may be or mean to me in that moment,” Falloon explained. Since the Wellness Challenge ended, she’s missed the daily practice of noticing, of calling something out.

But last week, I stood in the snow in my sock feet, snapping photos of a dawn sky that was leaking pink across the mountains.

It was beautiful the way the rose sky bounced its colour off the snow. I ran outside, undressed, to capture it, knowing how fleeting an alpine sunrise is. I didn’t just want to notice it. I wanted it to be mine, forever.

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But instead of feeling the loss of the Incessantly Vanishing, and leaning into it, breathing through it, standing and soaking it up with all my senses, I pulled my weapon as my kid looked on quizzically, and I took a mediocre picture. It cut the moment short, even as I was trying to do the opposite.

So today, when the kid fell asleep, I resisted the urge to freeze-frame the moment, and just sat for a minute, trying to breathe it in, not with a device, but with my eyes and nose and ears. I tried to hold the exquisite ache of that slip-away moment in my hands, and then I walked out of the room and let it go.

Categories: Uncategorized

Farewell to Mark Forsythe from a (too young to be this nostalgic) former Community Reporter

December 25, 2014 Leave a comment

Remember Neruda’s line: tonight I can write the saddest lines?

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Hello Christmas Eve.

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I misted up today listening to CBC radio, ferchrissakes. (And it didn’t help, that when I parked the car and walked the streets of Pemberton doing my last minute Xmas supplies shopping, that the little church on the hill was ringing out Christmas carols in the quaintest, most soul-quieting way.)

Of course, it was also Mark Forsythe’s last show, and for some reason, that had me feeling nostalgic for all the Lost Things, and for the kind of human being that restores your faith that, you know, the milk of human kindness hasn’t gone entirely sour. I would listen to BC Almanac as Mark handled all those callers (who I was writing off as morons and idiots and doddering fools) and he was always gracious, always kind, always willing to hold space for them. Never too good to take their comments. Never derisory or snarky or sneery, as it is so cool to be.

mark-forsythe(Here’s how ABC BookWorld describes him:

Always a serious listener, Mark Forsythe became a trusted and respected voice around the province, fairly responding to a remarkable variety of issues and personalities, eschewing self-referential asides and providing balanced views of conflicts rather than inflating them. Whereas many successful radio and television hosts are essentially selling themselves in the 21st century, making themselves into ‘personalities,’ Forsythe always epitomized the increasingly old-fashioned ideal of the broadcaster as public servant. Along the way he has produced several significant books, often in association with colleague Greg Dickson.

For a while, (from 2004 to 2010 as Pemberton’s Community Reporter to BC Almanac), I called him every few months and told him about things that were happening around Pemberton, and once or twice someone said, “How long have you and Mark known each other?”

“We don’t.”

“You chat as if you’re old friends.”

That’s Mark Forsythe.

I suspect he’d be the ultimate dinner party guest, and if he got stuck in the corner with your borderline insane Aunt Annie, he’d make her feel like she was the Queen of the Universe, not your party’s pariah, and he’d extricate himself so graciously she’d not even notice…

“I think I need to quit coffee,” I emailed him once, “for green tea. I shake the entire time I’m talking with you.”

“Welcome to radio,” he responded.

I was sad when BC Almanac canned their Community Reporter component and cut the show in half. Not so much because I rued the loss of a radio gig – it had fallen so unexpectedly in my lap anyway – but because it signalled the demise of something I feel a longing for – community. Common conversations. The willingness to make folk in Pemberton and Prince Rupert and Port Alberni feel as if their stories mattered too.

These days, everyone with a twitter, medium, snapchat, and instagram account is a broadcaster, collecting followers and likes and churning out quippy content and filtered photos. But as an audience, we’re splintering into tiny little niches and followings, and it’s harder to find that common touchpoint.

I wouldn’t pretend to know what actually pre-empted Forsythe’s retirement, but “news” seems to have shifted in the last decade, with everything from talkback or call-in programs to expert panels on breaking stories changing into a contest as to who can yell the loudest… and I suspect my longing for a host and commentator who is as good a listener as he is articulate is just going to deepen.

Thank you, Mark, for making me feel as though sharing tales of the changing of the seasons in Pemberton was truly worth paying attention to.

Categories: Uncategorized

Mike Douglas’ Snowman film is a love letter – to Whistler

December 10, 2014 Leave a comment

DOUGLASHOTBO

I’ve interviewed Mike Douglas a couple of times (for Skier and IF3 publications), and more recently, I’ve worked with Mike and his amazing crew at Switchback Entertainment as a partner in crime on several Origin Design + Communications projects for Whistler Blackcomb (Embedded, The Wonder Reels, The Beyond Series).

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So when our Origin team went en masse on Sunday night to see the World Premiere of his debut feature film, Snowman, at the Closing Gala of the Whistler Film Festival, I wasn’t going as a film critic, or a cultural commentator, or any kind of kinda-journalist that I’ve played at being over the past decade.

I was going as a creator, cheering on a fellow creative who had stepped beyond his comfort zone, who was putting himself out there to attempt the next level. I was in awe and a little bit jealous of his cojones.

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I’d also forgotten the full extent of the biography by which he’d earned the moniker of Godfather of Skiing (ie he didn’t give birth to skiing, but he sure as fuck ensured it got its spiritual education.)

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Here’s what I discovered in the semi-dark, inhaling popcorn by the handful, as I watched a deeply personal debut film about growing up far from snow, dreaming of a bigger life, and learning the price of risk-tasking:

The single most important step in your evolution as a creative person is owning your high school years. (Cheers to Lena Dunham, David Sedaris, and now, Mike Douglas. I can say that i’m light years away from sharing pictures of my high school year book as a way of connecting with an audience. Guess it’s time to call a therapist.)

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There’s so much talk in marketing these days about being soulful and authentic, but it doesn’t get much more legit that reconnecting with your high school best friend, 20 years later, after you both sold out on each other and (spoiler alert) became neighbours and ski buddies once again.

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If you want to be a craftsperson, you have to be willing to blow up your ultra-cool persona. Douglas has cred – his Salomon Freeski TV is not only groundbreaking, it’s mindmelting content for snowfiends. Shane McConkey was one of his bros. He practically reinvented skiing when it was at its most uninspiring.

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But in Snowman, he completely owns his vulnerability: he was adopted, he didn’t finish University, he is sometimes scared of the stuff he has to do as a pro skier. And his best friend in the world is a geek. A really really endearing, but in no way a leading man, weather geek. Who almost died in a terrifying helicopter crash in the biggest mountains imaginable.

When I lost Shane he was the first really close friend that I lost and we had kids the same age and we had so much in common, and I can’t even imagine if I would have lost Kevin that day. That would have probably changed my life even more dramatically. But I think stepping behind the camera and focusing on storytelling as opposed to just doing the coolest, latest trick – there’s risk involved in that, in just putting yourself out there and making things that people are going to see and judge. But at the same time that physical risk has been reduced now that I focus much more of my time on filmmaking. And that has been a product of what’s happened to my friends.

Because, for a bit of an epilogue here, Shane’s death was just the first domino. I’ve lost so many friends in the last five years, it’s absurd. I’ve become a pro at doing media eulogies for my friends. I just lost two – JP Auclair and Andreas Fransson back in the end of September, and Sarah Burke was like my little sister. JP was one of my dearest friends; he was at my wedding and has been through all these milestones in life with me. Andreas was the subject of my last film. So it’s been incredibly difficult. As my kids grow up, it definitely weighs on you for sure and focusing on the filmmaking side has been a little safer, but also therapeutic in a way. As a filmmaker and as a writer, you actually can take positive things out of the roller coaster of life. This is what life is and it’s not always going to be perfect, and sometimes it’s messy and sometimes there’s beauty in that as well.

~Mike Douglas talks to Marsha Lederman of the Globe and Mail

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So he told Kevin Fogolin’s story. And there were no rock stars to lead the charge. On the contrary – just a reluctant, intensely private, kid from Campbell River. And a former pro skier turned filmmaker digging into the beautiful mess of it all.

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I love watching Abma or Petersen or Backstrom slay a line as much as the next person. But maybe the ski world needs more stories like this… of regular folk, who love snow, and who realise, at some point in their lives, that sharing little moments on snow with your family might, ultimately, be the most important measure of things.

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Not everyone can move to Whistler. (Or any other awesome ski town. But Whistler is, you know, extra creamy.)

But there’s something beautiful in the stories of all the people who have. Because it required a great leap. And I’m super grateful to Mike Douglas for reminding me of that. That, at some point, we were all goofy-looking kids writing “Go skiing” in our high school year books. And, for better and worse, some of us actually did.

Categories: Uncategorized

All You Need is Love, Whole Food and an Insane Amount of Tenacity

November 30, 2014 Leave a comment

The first time I wrote for lululemon, my poem on happiness was scribbled in the store window.

(I never did get a photo. But the best moments are like fresh snowfall…. they vanish fast and are better lived than overly documented.)

More recently, a fast-talking idea-zinging uber-talented-writer-type friend of mine, who’s currently at the helm of the lululemon blog, asked if I could profile a couple of their ambassadors who are about to compete for the second time in the World Championships Ultraman in Hawaii. Here’s the bit that got me hooked:

More people have gone into space than have done this race. Actual fact.

So, I interviewed Kevin and Kat Calder-Becker, a pair of 50 year olds who have raised an apparently well-adjusted daughter (I interviewed her too), work full-time jobs, and train an additional 26 hours a week (leaving me to wonder what the frack I do with my time and if I really needed to inhale that entire peppermint Ritter Sports bar to sustain my typing.)

Check out the profile, here.

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I was prepared to hate them. I was looking for the mental chink in the armour – the streak of narcissism, OCD, whatever – that would make their superhuman achievements (or my underachievements) make sense.

And here’s what I found.

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A pretty simple recipe for how to be awesome. Love, whole foods and a bit (okay, probably quite a bit) of tenacity.

Don’t ever let not knowing how to do something hold you back.

Their journey to Ultraman started with Kevin quitting the fags and packing on the pounds.

Says Kat, “For us, this was a fearful journey to begin. We were not athletes. I was an artist. I went to art school. I didn’t know how to run.” Kevin had to learn to swim laps without stopping.

It’s not about crazy. It’s about commitment.

“For us, it’s about commitment,” said Kat. “We’re committed to our jobs, our sports, our run club and we don’t start anything and not follow it through. We try and support other people and help them… And the sense of accomplishment was so profound for both of us. Facing fear and turning that fear into courage. Setting a goal. Crossing the finish line. We were in love with the sport and the lifestyle, so I signed us up for two the next year.”

There aren’t shortcuts or supplements to get your there.

I read this in Outside magazine a while ago – a round up of fitness trends. They’d combed the most influential sports science journals for the top-cited articles over the past 5 years, and that revealed that, in general, we’re obsessed with shortcuts. Beet juice. Hydrolysate. Everyone’s looking for a fitness shortcut.

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Kevin’s take?

“No weird supplements. We found out what we needed. We knew it was whole food. Supplements basically provide what you can get in whole food. We don’t take multivtamins. We use a Vitamix for smoothies.  I wish they’d make whole foods a little more accessible to everyone. A head of lettuce for 99cents and 2 L of Coke up to $4.”

He doesn’t even use gadgets.

“I don’t have a placebo or a gadget. I race on feel. Everything has to go on feeling. If I’m tired, I stop. I raced Ironman with no watch. It’s how I feel. I like racing like that, without constantly looking at your time, what’s my pace. I look around. Oh look, the ocean, what temperature is that water I wonder. There’s no magic talisman. Just me and my mind.”

Love helps.

Why do they seem indefatigable? Well, there is the fact that 18 years in, they still believe they’re one another’s soul mates. More. Twin flames. So they literally energize each other. Don’t bicker. Don’t wear each other down.

Kat: “When we race, we race. But when we train, we have fun. We’re never gotten mad at each other in training, I’m always trying to hold on to his back wheel and in swimming, I try and put the hurt on him and it makes us better. We’re really in alignment in our objectives.

Kat and Kev keep it light

Overcome fear one step at a time.

Kat: “These things are scary. When I look at the start of a race, it’s a fear of the unknown. A lot will come up and I’m going to have to make a lot of decisions on the fly, that will result in success or failure, and it’s completely on your shoulders if you fail. But for me…it’s been a great therapy. If you can face the ocean for 10km or run across the Grand Canyon which we did in April (15 hours of straight running, one of the hardest things we’ve ever done), and turn that fear into courage… I used to be afraid of walking into a room of people.”

Kev: “How do I overcome the fear? I live in the moment. So until it happens, I won’t react. I try not to think about it. I’m on the task at hand. When I’m swimming, I’m just swimming. In 20 minutes my paddlers going to feed me. Is my stroke good? Am I moving forward? I’m not thinking about what’s in the water. One square meter. That’s all you can control. One stroke at a time.”

One step at a time, Kat and Kev Calder-Becker for lululemon

Ultraman is underway this weekend with updates on twitter at #ultramanlive. 

 

 

Snow Mandalas: Talking to Simon Beck

November 8, 2014 Leave a comment

In 2012, I got the chance to write about snow-artist, Simon Beck, for a piece for Kootenay Mountain Culture magazine.

Simon Beck KMC 2012Passionate and quirky, he was hoping to secure some form of sponsorship, so he could keep leaving his marks in snow, improve his camera equipment and work on a book. Well, it looks like his tenacity has paid off. His self-published book was released this week. He’s been invited to present at TEDx events around the world, on topics ranging from ethics to creativity.

Simon Beck Snow Art book

Icebreaker collaborated with him to debut their Art of Nature series, producing twenty garments featuring his snow-shoe-stomped designs with proceeds going to Protect Our Winters (POW). It’s a media-marketing win for the brand… but I think what makes it so successful is that perfect alignment of brand values – all the more reason for brands to be really clear in knowing what they stand for.


 

Here’s the 2012 article:

Tracked Out: Artist Simon Beck Has a Message and He’s Writing It In Snow For All the World To Read

Most people I know love fresh snow and want to leave their mark in it – usually in the form of a figure eight, a figure 11 or a big arcing S. Simon Beck watches the powder forecast with as much fanaticism, but a different outcome in mind.

He wants to make mandalas, crop circles and other ephemeral art, on the 1.3 hectare expanse of a frozen lake in the French Alps, by spending 6-10 hours going round and round in circles in his snowshoes.

The British artist and retired mapmaker has been making his art, and name, at Les Arcs, since 2004, when the then 45 year old, a competitive orienteer, wanted to skive off his usual evening training hike. Instead, in an inspired fit of procrastination, he took his compass, plotted 5 points on the frozen lake behind his apartment, and tramped out a pentangle. Augmenting it with little triangles and circles, he realized how beautiful his giant snow doodle was when he looked at it from the chairlift nearby.

When he subsequently quit orienteering, he decided to take snow art seriously and make it his main form of winter exercise.

Using snowshoes, an old school handheld orienteering compass, a clothes line (to make the curves, just like your elementary school protractor), and counting out his paces, he tramps out famous geometric designs like the Koch curve, Mandelbrot set and Sierpinksi triangle, without the aid of GPS, mostly by eye-balling aiming points. Beethoven and a ridiculous level of physical fitness also help him complete the designs, which often disappear by the following day. “God makes the rules. Mankind will never be above the laws of nature,” he says philosophically.

Increasingly famous on the interweb, Beck says that his current focus is to “maintain my position as world leader in my field and work towards the goal of producing a coffee table book that I hope will sell a million.” He fantasizes about acquiring a remote controlled aircraft to take aerial photographs of his art. Aside from avalanches, hypothermia, and wayward dogs messing up his tracks, getting a photo is the biggest hurdle he faces. He estimates that he has remade at least a quarter of his designs from scratch because of a failure to get a photo.

Like all true iconoclasts, he hopes to use his fame ultimately for good: “Most skiers think I am mad.. But I hope to spread the message that there are better things in life than spending time doing things you don’t want so you can spend money you don’t have to buy things you don’t need to impress people you don’t like.”

It’s the point of powder, after all. Revelling in its fleeting perfection and leaving a momentary mark. Simon Beck’s mark just happens to be art.

#50DayWellnessChallenge. Start Now. Fall off the wagon. Begin again.

October 18, 2014 3 comments

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Turkey hangover, ColdFront and opening day on the mountain got you thinking about starting a new fitness program?

Try this. A 50 Day Wellness Challenge. All you have to do is say yes, and then tell someone.

Yep. I make it sound easy in the columns and blog posts that I’ve been putting out there, as part of a community-wide countdown to the Winds of Change’s 5th annual Wellness Gathering on November 22.

Gym workouts and rainy bike rides, yoga sessions, delicious meals, garden harvests and gratitude journals are just some of the things people are doing. But more than that, they’ve been putting themselves out there to seed a wellness uprising with a little hashtag that delivers a boost of vitality and inspiration when resolve is flagging, and that reminds us that wellness, and the Winds of Change, is essentially just this: each of us looking out for one another.

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Of course, despite the noble cause and the inspired prose and the profilerating hashtags, I fell off the wagon.

At the outset, I had considered gaming the entire thing by choosing something that offered wellness without too much challenge, like breathing deeply for five minutes every day, or savouring a poem or visiting my favourite dock, or exploring the proven health benefits of chocolate every single day. But I  didn’t want to squander the opportunity to try and be a better version of myself.

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With a 40th birthday around the corner and a friend’s #100daysofswimming challenge (which culminated in a five and a half hour open water swim from Europe to Africa) fresh in my memory, I set the clock on Oct. 3 and began counting down.

Fifty days of wellness, for me, at the chin-up bar.

Start. Stall. Start. Stall.

I guess that’s how these things go.

Fall over. Get back up again. Come up short. Ask for help. Feel bad. Forgive yourself.

Who knew a few chin-ups would be so challenging…?

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The fifth annual Wellness Gathering is set for Nov. 22. That’s about 30 days away, which means there’s plenty of time to get a personal #50DayWellnessChallenge underway, and be in peak form for both the Wellness Gathering and opening day. Just tag #50DayWellnessChallenge and feel free to share with the Facebook page @WindsofChange, (or on twitter @Winds4Change and Instagram @wellnessalmanac). – See more at: http://www.whistlerquestion.com/opinion/columnists/the-wellness-almanac-50daywellnesschallenge-start-it-now-1.1424795#sthash.DiZNmApA.dpuf

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