5 lessons in perseverance from winter sports
Living in New England, winters are long and cold.  There are really only two choices during those endless months – hunker down and pray for daylight OR pick up a winter sport.

We have many to choose from…ice fishing, snowmobiling, ice skating, and more.  Over the years, I have become proficient in quite a few, but in our house, skiing is the winter activity of choice.

Honestly, I’d rather be reading a book or watching a movie, enjoying our heating system.  But I also want to spend quality time with my family and the two boys in my life are very active and love the outdoors.  Rather than stay home alone all winter, once our son was old enough, he and I both learned how to ski.

Learning a new winter sport relatively late in life has taught me quite a bit about perseverance and what it takes to keep going when I’d rather be inside staying warm.

1.  Make the most of what you’ve got.  

There’s a saying that if you don’t like the weather in New England, wait 5 minutes and it will change.  We don’t get much in the way of “powder” or fresh snow.  Usually, the best we can hope for is groomed ice and a temperature above freezing so it’s not too hard.  Perfect conditions – blue bird days with soft, knee-deep snow – don’t exist, so we have to make the most of what we have.  Here, you have to put yourself out there and try, or you’ll spend a lifetime looking out the window.

If you wait for conditions to be just right, you’ll never take the first step.


2.  Never stop learning.

My husband is a former ski and snowboard instructor.  He spent a lot of time helping me learn the basics of controlled stops and turns before I ever went on the mountain.  My first stop when I got there?  A ski class.  Having the basics under my belt, I was better prepared to leverage the one-on-one mentoring I received.  I’m at the intermediate level this season, but I plan on additional classes soon.  Why?  Because I’m comfortable.  If I get bored, I might not want to stick with it.  There’s a fine balance between being good enough to want to keep going, and so good that there’s no challenge anymore.

If you feel good where you are, it’s time to learn something new and push yourself out of your comfort zone.


3.  Be location savvy.

New England is known for “blue ice.”  As I mentioned, we have groomed ice, not fresh powder like you’ll find out West.  Learning how to ski here, even on the bunny hills, is harder than probably anywhere else on Earth.  But, once you’ve learned how to tackle the ice, you can ski anywhere and do well.  You just have to adjust your style for where you are, not where you’ve been.  When I first tried to ski on powder, I kept stopping and getting stuck on flat sections of the trail.  I was trying too hard to control my speed, being used to skiing on ice.  I had to point myself downhill and go, or move to tougher hills.  I had all the skills I needed, but I had to make them fit the conditions of my location.

If you can master the tough stuff, you can tackle anything, even if it takes some adjustment.


4.  Hard work feels easier when you’re with friends.

Who wants to be cold and miserable, spending the day throwing themselves against a sheet of ice?  No one.  Yet, somehow, the mountains are filled with people doing it day in and day out. If you’ve spent any time on a mountain, you’ll see that most skiers are in pairs or groups.  With friends, something that sounds unfun becomes a great time.  Even alone, you can find another skier at the same skill level in the lift line and partner for the day.  At any level, there’s always someone else trying to tackle the same hill you are.  You just have to be open and look for them.

A challenge seems more achievable when you know someone else who’s going through it too.


5.  A little success goes a long way.

Landing hard on the ice is no fun.  Fearing it pretty much guarantees it will happen, or that you’ll never get started.  It takes work – and maybe a few bumps and bruises – to achieve anything in life.  Skiing is no different.  Once you’ve battled through the early goings, suddenly turns make sense and you can get from the top of the hill to the bottom without falling.  You feel yourself smiling, so you go on another run, and another.  Then you’re hooked.  The feeling of achievement is that much greater because you had to WORK to get it.

Once you have a taste of success, it becomes addictive.


Whether or not you are a fan of winter – and winter sports – you still can pick up a few tips on perseverance.  If nothing else, remember that to accomplish anything, you need to be willing to take the first step…even if it’s a cold and slippery one!

I’d be interested in perseverance tips various sports have taught you.  Please feel free to share them in the comments.