February 3, 2012 posted by

Ski To Live

“You don’t learn from experience. You learn from reflecting on the experience.”
Kristen Ulmer

This week’s psyche is a little different. Since Puxatony Phil says six more weeks of winter let’s embrace it with some life lessons with a ski motif. Hopefully Phil’s right because we’ve hardly had any winter so far but that’s another topic. Today I present former extreme skier turned teacher Kristen Ulmer’s Ski To Live.

Though Kristen is a famous skier her clinics are decidedly centered on the to live part. She uses the athletics as a vehicle for expression and also holds mtn biking clinics during the summer. The mind has a lot more to do with our physicality than we give it credit for. Here’s the story that inspired this post. For more go to Kristen’s site and get on her mailing list or, better yet, take a clinic.

People ask me all the time why I started Ski to Live.

I want to tell you a story about my past you may find shocking. It explains why I started these evolutionary mindset ski and snowboard camps, and also illustrates the next top mindset tip.

When I was 22 years old I was competing in local Utah mogul competitions and generally coming in last place. Heck, I hadn’t even owned a pair of ski pants until two years prior- just competing in anything was a big step.

That summer, while my fellow competitors trained on snow at expensive camps at Mount Hood, Whistler or even South America- I decided to take a different kind of jump than I was used to; a trip to Asia by myself. For 5 months. To work on my self esteem.

I had two rules on this trip. I made these rules because I realized my self worth was entirely based on the fact I was pretty, and could ski well. I realized I wasn’t going to always be pretty, or always ski well, and I thought I’d better find a way to build a more solid personal foundation.

My rules where this:

1. I would make myself as ugly as possible: wearing coke bottle glasses instead of contacts, not washing my hair and wearing frumpy clothes.

2. I was not allowed to tell anyone I skied.

On that trip, I volunteered for Mother Teresa’s House for the Destitute and Dying in Calcutta, India. I was robbed in the Philippines by a group of 30 scam artists and forced to leave the country at gun point. I almost lost my right leg to gangrene in Nepal. The summer ended and I came home.

The first mogul competition that next season was a special event for the entire west against the best technically trained mogul skiers in the country. I felt funny just being there. But I didn’t come in last place like usual. I won. I killed it, actually.

Within one single year, I then made it on the US Ski Team. That same year I also filmed 3 ski movies, and was subsequently named by 4 different ski magazines the best woman “extreme” skier in the world.

The math? I became world class at two different sports, in one year, without any technical training. We all hear mindset is everything in sports. I lived it. That trip forever changed my life and how I saw myself, so I believe it.

THAT’S why I started these camps.


  • Thanks for posting this, Steve. I passed it along to several people. Seems like an amazing program.

  • wow, she's not a very good skier is she? either that or the videographer sucks. maybe she needs some ski lessons.

  • Did somebody just say Ulmer was not a good skier?

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