chairlift

The chairlift doesn’t bite

With so many families celebrating a new season on the slopes over the holiday weekend, I wanted to share one bit of snowboarding wisdom with you: the chairlift doesn’t bite.

When I was a snowboarding instructor, one challenge many of my students faced was overcoming a paralyzing fear of the chairlift.

It’s easy to understand why:  you’re strapped awkwardly to a board with one foot dangling while your annoying buddies pester you from behind.  The thought of falling while getting off the lift is unbearable.

For weeks I tried to figure out how to explain to students that getting on and off the lift was easier than riding a bike.  I consulted with fellow instructors and senior staff members, who mostly offered complex mechanical explanations on technique and form.

I knew there had to be an easier way to teach this.

Turns out there is. Here’s the trick:

Don’t think about it.

This realization came to me while sharing a chair with a student who was so scared of getting off the lift, I thought she might take it for a spin all afternoon. So I turned to her, said hey, look at me, don’t think about it.

She relaxed.  She got off the lift. And she flashed the biggest smile I saw all day.  She did it.  She conquered her first chair.

That’s what I’m talking about.