Feel the fear and ski anyway - Skiing - Travel - The Independent

Feel the fear and ski anyway

After five years away from the slopes, Tracey Davies found the prospect of heading back to the piste terrifying. But a chance encounter taught her a new way to cope with her nerves

Crisp Alpine air, wide virgin pistes and flagons of vin chaud to keep out the cold are just three of the things I missed during my hiatus from skiing. What I hadn't anticipated on a rare child-free weekend in the French resort of Tignes was a rigid knot of anxiety. Watching a kaleidoscope of Berghaus carve white doodles into the side of a mountain, I got an unfamiliar feeling in the pit of my stomach. Pure. Black. Fear.

Once a keen skier, I haven't been on piste since having my twin girls five years ago and for some reason, I couldn't shift the underlying – dramatic – fear that I would fall off the mountain and die, leaving three children motherless.

I approached the chairlift with a heavy heart. My husband, unaware of my angst, chattered excitedly beside me and at the top of the first run took off with enthusiasm while I stood in tears, legs buckling like Bambi on ice, picturing the fluorescent helicopter airlifting my crumpled body off the mountain. It took 45 minutes to get down that short run and I hated every second of it. Our romantic weekend in the Alps did not bode well.

We were staying in the centre of town in a new fully catered private chalet run by Hundred Hills, a company that specialises in weekend and short-break ski accommodation in Tignes and Val-d'Isère. After a disastrous lesson being overtaken by pensioners and toddlers, I retired early for the day. Back at the chalet, our host, Martin, handed me a slice of home-made cake in an attempt to cheer me up, and I confessed my fears as I ate it. The ski gods must have been smiling on me. By total coincidence, Martin was a trained hypnotherapist and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) practitioner and had counselled numerous ski and snowboard instructors for the past few seasons. "The fear can strike when you've had a change in circumstance," he explained, "and this not only affects your confidence but it can affect your physical ability to ski." Desperate to conquer this new and rather annoying fear, I jumped at his offer of some one-to-one counselling.

The following morning Martin and I sat cross-legged on the rug in front of the fire, and he explained how hypnotherapy and NLP can help. "With snow sports, if you accept the premise that the mind and the body communicate with one another, then the quality of the thoughts you have must impact on the way you ride," Martin said. "If you're thinking negatively, or view your riding through a gaggle of limiting beliefs, then this will ultimately lead to inadequate performance. In that respect, your thoughts create the conditions necessary for your performance to fail." This made perfect sense. Perched on top of the mountain, I'd already convinced myself that I couldn't do it, therefore my stubborn old bones had refused to co-operate.

Martin's gentle, calming voice lulled me into a comfortable doze and he asked the billion-dollar question, why did I feel so scared? I admitted it was partly because I'd become a big softie and was worried about hurting myself, and, as it was just us in the room, I quietly confessed that now I'm a mother of three, I'm really scared of dying.

"We're going to replace those negative feelings with positive ones using a good experience from your past," he said. "Close your eyes and think of a time when you felt confident and in control." Along with a lot of "How do you feel?" and "Remember that confidence" we dug deep into my subconscious and unearthed my inner skier. "We need to put that feeling of confidence somewhere accessible," he said, and pinched my thumb and third finger together, and despite my initial cynicism I did feel a strange flutter of energy. Martin finished off with some positive chanting (which was less weird than it sounds) before I took my new-found confidence to the slopes.

Pinching my fingers, I made it to the top of the mountain with barely a quiver. While hardly Olympian in my confidence, I was able to take in the glorious Alpine views and launch myself down the run with relative ease. Rewarding myself with a cold beer at the bottom, I felt the stirrings of my former ski swagger start to return.

To make sure that I was firmly back in the driving seat, I had another counselling session with Martin where we laughed at my fears and told my mind off for playing tricks on me, stopping me having fun. I left with more confidence than I'd had all weekend and headed straight to the mountain to race some pensioners before heading home. Fingers pinched, of course.

For more information, see hundredhills.com and martinamott.com

Other ways to make your fear slope off

If you've lost your mojo on the mountain – or never had it in the first place – but want to face your fears, it's worth thinking carefully about where you book to go boarding or skiing. The Italian resorts of Cortina and Champoluc offer beautiful views and plenty of beginners' and blue runs, while Tignes in France boasts lots of nursery slopes and plenty of snow, plus a good range of expert runs for any confident skiers in your party. Basically, go for resorts with a good reputation for learners and don't be persuaded off the nursery slopes until you feel ready.

While group ski school lessons work for some, don't underestimate the benefit of a one-on-one session. True, it's more expensive, but an hour alone with a patient teacher can turn you from a nervous wreck into an optimistic adventurer – and I speak from personal experience. Also worth a go if you're dreading going over the top (or down a green run) is a trip to a ski dome before you leave home for the slopes. Try Tamworth or Milton Keynes and either go solo or book a lesson there (again, choose from en masse or individual, depending on your budget).

Rebecca Armstrong

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week