Learning to Ski

First-time Skier Discovers Her ‘Hum’ on the Slopes

Instructor sees a new sense of confidence in people who learn to ski

Doc Pow

Learning to Ski 1 Go Ski Alberta

I recently watched a couple of videos that inspired me, both of which you will find  within this story. The first showcases a recent TED talk featuring life stories from one of the world’s most powerful people in the entertainment industry, the other showcases a young girl’s first time ever learning to ski at Jasper’s Marmot Basin.

What ties them together?  They both feature ways to “fuel your hum,” a term coined by Shonda Rhimes, a television producer and writer, who Time magazine named 100 People Who Help Shape the World.

You might wonder what ‘hum’ means. Rhimes describes it as your inner spark that cuts through life’s clutter, and allows you to be productive, and even more importantly, allows you to experience joy.  

When I first met Eva Chau, the girl in the learn to ski video below, the first thing she told me about the idea of skiing is that she was afraid of hitting a tree.

She was convinced that skiing meant that in order to survive on the slopes, you had to avoid the trees and stay clear of the forest at all costs.  But Kathleen Buffel, her ski instructor, not only guided her through the trees, she changed Chau’s experience from learning to ski to exploring and enjoying the mountain while skiing.  

“This sport gives anyone who tries it a breath of fresh air. It’s like scuba diving. You get into the water and you open up a whole new reality,” says Buffel.  “In skiing each new run, you gain another feeling of accomplishment,” she says.

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Buffel teaches people that skiing allows us to move our bodies in new ways. “Skiing is a human way of flying, we can go as fast or as slow as we want, but it’s our opportunity to explore.”

Like Chau, and many others who I’ve seen learn to ski, it’s  exactly what Rhimes calls a ‘hum’ in their stride.

“The sense of accomplishment and confidence you gain from skiing, you feel rewarded by it and when you bring that back into your daily life, even simply walking through the mall, you stand taller and walk with a new sense of accomplishment,” says Buffel.

Add to that the fact that learning to ski has become so easy with lessons offered at every resort and the gear simply making it even easier to learn to ski.

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For Chau, she has a new-found sense of confidence. “I found out something new about myself today; I challenged myself with something that I know I am going to love for the rest of my life and it’s let me discover strengths about myself I didn’t know I had,” she said.

Buffel sees this confidence in new skiers all the time. “I see lots of kids in my line of work as an instructor, and they come in bashful, but put them on skis for the first time and those same children blossom – they are given that little bit of freedom. . . It’s up to them to make their turns happen; I can’t do it for them,” she says. “Post their time on the slopes, I can see it, they turn out to be different kids, and they’ve challenged themselves in a new way,” Buffel says.

Doc Pow is the founder of SnowSeekers, an online community dedicated to igniting
people’s passion for winter travel.