What Mogul Skiing Taught Me About Life

Learn Five Life Lessons Competitive Mogul Skiing Teaches

Since the first time I saw the 1992 Olympic Freestyle Mogul Skiing event in Tignes, France, I was hooked. As I watched Edgar Grospiron, Jean-Luc Brassard, John Smart, Nelson Carmichael, Bob Aldighieri, Craig Rodman, Chuck Martin, Liz McIntyre, and Donna Weinbrecht ski the minefield of bumps, I knew I wanted to pursue competitive mogul skiing. The desire to learn mogul skiing hit me like a bolt of lightening. Since that day, I've dedicated thousands of hours to the art of skiing moguls. And even though it's been 12 years since I've retired from competitive mogul skiing, I reflect back on the positive impact it's had on my life.

Five Life Lessons Competitive Mogul Skiing Taught Me

Mogul skiing isn't easy, even though the best mogul skiers in the world make it look that way. You need to have a strong fitness foundation of strength, agility, balance, and flexibility. You combine that fitness demand with the need to be a technically strong skier in turns, airs, and speed; and you have a sport that is invigorating to the soul and demanding to the body and mind. A sport that not only makes you a strong skier, but a better person from the life lessons it teaches. Below are five life lessons mogul skiing has taught me:

1. Set Goals, Achieve Goals

Setting and achieving goals is an important part of life. Goals motivate us and drive us to be better each day. Every competitive mogul skier has a goal of making their national team, dominating the world cup circuit, and winning the gold medal at the Olympic games. While only a few will take that path, every competitive mogul skier learns to set and achieve goals daily. Achieving realistic daily goals helps a mogul skier progress quickly to bigger goals. When I look back on life, I can clearly see how a foundation of goal setting has had a positive impact on my personal progression.

2. Perform Under Pressure

Competitive mogul skiing teaches you how to perform under pressure. A mogul skiing run lasts anywhere from 23-30 seconds. During that time, you have to be perfect with your turns, jumps, and speed. A leg split, a bobble, or small mistake can cost you a spot on the podium or even your career progression. There is a lot of pressure in competitive mogul skiing, but that's the fun part. Learning to deal with and overcome competitive pressure sets you up for success. Learning to perform under pressure will bring happiness to your competitive ski career and to your life after mogul skiing.

When I’m skiing moguls I feel a lot of energy. You can’t be too stressed out, you have to let it flow, and trust in your skills. When you’re skiing moguls, it’s like you’re water flowing over a rock. When you take all the elements of moguls skiing and you put them together and you do it right—you feel like you’re one with the snow. As you roll over the bumps and come down the backside of the mogul, it’s really an effortless feeling. It’s something that just feels awesome.
— Burke Alder

3. Trust in Your Skills

Mogul skiing teaches you how to trust and that's an important part of life. You have to let the moguls come at you naturally and you have to trust in your instincts, you have to trust in your skills. When you're mogul skiing you can't think too much, you have to rely on the hours and hours of practice and preparation. Yep, at a competition, it's time to let your body do the work. Don't worry about other competitors, course obstacles, or snow conditions—trust in your skills and achieve your course goals. Learn to trust and go forward with focus, energy, and determination. The same is true about life.

4. Bounce Back from Defeat

Mogul skiing teaches you to bounce back from defeat. You won't win every race, you won't land every air, and you won't ski every competitive run perfectly. That's ok, bounce back from these defeats more determined to succeed. The most important part of any defeat, is learning from it. I've grown the most in my life when I've failed and took time to retrospect why it went wrong. Learning to bounce back from defeat is a huge part of why I'm successful. I'm grateful to mogul skiing that taught me this at a young age.

5. Enjoy the Journey

Learn to enjoy the journey. As a competitive mogul skier, there will be good days and there will be bad days. There will be times when you feel on top of the world and other days you won't. There will be triumphs and big heartbreaks. There will be times when your dreams slip through your fingers and you'll wonder what's next. Learn to enjoy this amazing journey, because it's not about the destination. It's about the friends you'll make, the experiences you'll have, the fears you'll face, the obstacles you'll overcome, and the unforgettable moguls you'll ski. Learn to take in each day as a blessing and learn to live in the moment.

Thank You Freestyle Friends and Coaches

I'm grateful for all of my friends and coaches in the freestyle mogul skiing community. Each of you have had a positive impact on my life. I'm grateful for all the times we've spent and will spend together. Thank you. What a journey. What a blessing. Let's go ski some moguls together. I love this sport!

Let the eagles fly!

About the Blog Video

My good friend, Levi Whiney, is the owner of a film company called Uphill Cinema. He is a former competitive mogul skier and a current coach of the Wasatch Freestyle Team. He has a passion for skiing moguls and telling stories through film. We spent a spring afternoon at Deer Valley skiing moguls on Champion (The 2002 Olympic Course). After we skied, he sat me down and ask me a few questions about why I ski moguls and what impact it's had on my life. The short video above was the outcome of this memorable day skiing moguls with my friend. Thanks Levi!