A sparkling day in the powder

Sparkling day Hirafu

Today started like any other. The alarm went. We got out of bed, went through the daily administration of breakfast and coffee. Then we opened the blinds – to a clear sky, with lots of fresh snow. My day off and it’s a sparkler! 

There is a lot of snow in Hokkaido generally, but in Niseko in particular. It is famous for its powder (snow) – of such a light consistency that it sits, poised in clumps on branches, street lights and power lines. Today was a powder day and a good one!

No friends on a powder day … 
On a day of fresh powder, it’s every man for himself in getting to the best stashes of the soft white snow. That statement seems to become real while you queue for the lift. Everyone is jostling for position, squeezing ahead to get on the lift first. No friends there. I believe some arrive at the lift at 7am, put their skis/boards in the “line”, then disappear for coffee until the gates open!

Today was a no friend day for me. I was skiing on my own. However, I always meet and talk to people on the lifts so – not sure that really counts?

Looking back at YoteiExpanding my powder experience
Skiing in powder is different to moving over firm packed, groomed runs. It requires a different kind management of the skis. Although, according to Monsieur Contrôleur, many principles are the same. It requires keeping the skis together to form a single platform on the snow, softening movements like turning and evening out the weight over both skis. You still have to be balanced over the skis, leaning down the hill and responding to the dynamics of the terrain – usually clumps of snow, bumps and trees. “Situational skiing” are the words used!

Navigating new runs
In my sortie, I navigated new territory. I warmed up on some intermediate runs, moving into patches of ungroomed snow and through treed sections. I was trying out a pair of “powder skis” that were slightly wider under foot with which I was running my own ski class. I took on tree runs and ungroomed ones. Each time, I was coaching myself – reminding myself of the movements and skills.

I skied. I fell. I slipped. It wasn’t all pretty but it felt good. Even when I know it wasn’t an elegant display of the sport, I enjoyed the feeling of completing the runs with some satisfaction. The thing is not to feel vulnerable to the size of the task. Chunk it up. Deal with one chunk at a time. Accomplish each. Then attempt the next.

Skiing mindfully
When you do such skiing, you need to be focused. Your mind must be “on the job”. If not, you catch an edge, cross your skis or fail to notice a change in the terrain, and … down you go! You may not have thought about skiing as an exercise in mindfulness, but really it is. You cannot think about other things without a lapse in concentration and a resulting demise in skiing performance.

The benefit of course, is that you have focused and engaged in one activity for a period of time. It refreshes you. It takes your mind off other things. It forces you to “enjoy the moment”.

Where do you get your mindfulness?
Where do you get to escape from the humdrum of life? Do you have an activity or pursuit that puts you in a zone of complete focus?


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