Clara Hughes, a six time Olympic medal winner, once told me that her best piece of advice was from her old coach that said, “When you get in the start gate, there is only you... you better well know yourself.” This statement can be scary or is the most powerful place in the world. What does this message mean? It means that it is up to you to know why you ski, why you compete in racing, why you love this sport, to know why you choose it all. If you do not “know” yourself you may stand in the start gate feeling very alone and mentally unprepared to which you will find ways to be “mentally tough” and block out your negative thoughts. On the other side of this, if you take the time to learn and connect to that place within you of why you compete, why you love ski racing, you discover a place of power and creativity. From this place of “knowing yourself” your nerves turn to excitement and joy because you see an opportunity of full expression out on the course.
Close your eyes and picture yourself at the top of your favourite mountain, you are the only one there. When you look down the run there is nothing but untouched powder or a fresh groomer waiting for you to ski it. Go ahead, visualize yourself standing there, I can wait :) How does this feel, how stoked are you to ski this run any way you want? If this excites you, if this makes you a little nervous but also gives you tingles, then this is you coming to know yourself. This is you, this is you starting a conversation with yourself, about why you ski, what excites you in life, this is your heart speaking to you. You are now the most powerful person alive and from this place there is no need for mental preparation because you are already there, you already know. From here you simply can go rip it up and have fun!
Mike Janyk has been a ski racer since he was little and has been on the Canadian National Ski Team since 2000. He won bronze in slalom at the 2009 world championships. Mike Janyk and Manny Osborne-Paradis organize the Mike & Manny Cowboy Ski Camps. Check out Mike's website http://www.mikejanyk.com