It is one of the most exhilarating sports on earth, a physically demanding rollercoaster ride that can be wonderfully exhausting but unquestionably thrilling. More than 1 million Brits head out on ski holidays every year, many attempting to emulate that great alpine ski racers in the sport. But statistics show that as many as 17,000 come home on crutches, while the average cost of repatriation from Europe by air can come to as much as £12,000.
But even though many of us come up short in our attempts to replicate pro skiers, there are lessons we can learn from them. Here are four things we can learn from successful skiers.
The importance of balance in skiing can't be overstated. The top skiers in the world spend as much as an hour a day working on their balance. They train by walking across slack ropes, balancing on yoga balls and juggling while standing on one leg – no, we're not joking. What can you learn from that? Not to take your balance for granted because it affects everything.
Successful skiers have incredible reactions. They need to be able to adjust their body position, their speed and their race line, when they catch edges, hit a patch of ice or hard snow and still be able to stay upright. And they can only do that because they can react quickly, process what is happening and make adjustments accordingly.
The speed of your reactions could be the difference between a great ski holiday and home on crutches. And if you feel your reactions might not be where you need them to be it might be worth investing in a ski helmet.
Successful skiers are incredibly versatile. They have to be jacks of all trades, switching from the high speed downhill all the way to the highly technical slalom. Each discipline requires a completely different approach and each present different challenges. What can we learn from that? That we need to be ready to adapt to things that may not be totally in our sweet spot but that, with a few adjustments and the right attitude, we can succeed at. It's a great lesson for almost any walk of life.
Ski racers have to be among the most flexible athletes on the planet. Alongside gymnasts and high-board divers, skiers have to be supple and flexible to avoid injury and cope with the stresses and strains of the sport. The constant turning and twisting, with the upper body going in direction and the lower body going in another, means their bodies have to be resilient.
Spending time stretching your muscles for a few hours every day will help hugely with your overall fitness and wellbeing. Yoga and pilates classes would be a great starting point. And if you can become more supple, you will suffer fewer injuries and stay healthier for longer.