On the move to Italy in January this year I was welcomed with two metres of snowfall, Champoluc and the Monterosa mountain range were looking magnificent. Everyone skiing in the Alps this winter had the best snow conditions we have seen for many years and, all of you I am sure, have incredible stories to share and savor for many seasons to come.
We too had days of exhilarating off piste skiing, exploring the routes and fresh snow with some wonderful people, sharing some special moments high up above Champoluc, Gressoney and Alagna in the Olen, Indren, Salza and Bettolina routes. See some of the action on our face book page where videos and photographs are posted.
As Champoluc, along with every other resort in the Alps, works hard to make themselves a ‘must visit’ destination for skiers, the construction of new lifts and hotels is always something to inspire visitors. The resort is eagerly awaiting the opening of two new hotels, the replacement and enhancement of the main gondola and the distinct possibility that work on the new lift, linking the Ayas Valley with Cervinia, will start soon.
Outdoor Mindfulness – In nature, through movement and stillness, with awareness.
Mountain retreats during the summer are a great way to enjoy being in the mountains, have fun exercising and doing something which has lasting health and well-being benefits. Combining the exhilaration of hiking with the stillness of meditation and the grounding of yoga, you will journey not only through the wonderful Monterosa in the Italian Alps but also explore internally your mind and body. Teachings on mindfulness are given each day mostly while in nature walking the forest trails and hiking the rugged terrain above the tree line. We will have a daily schedule of early morning yoga followed by a sitting meditation. After breakfast we hike / walk during the day with mindfulness teachings along the way. On return the afternoons end with a light restorative yoga practice and a shorter meditation sitting. Our evenings are spent enjoying local quality Italian food and the social company of others.
by John Arnold - International Snowsport Coach & Off Piste Skiing Leader
Making the transition from piste to powder is the aspiration of many skiers who have spent their fair share of time grooving their skills on the red and black graded slopes. This article looks at the ways we approach the adventure of venturing ‘off the limits’ of graded and groomed slopes.
by John Arnold
This is the story about a journey from hills to mountains and how, 40 years ago, a handful of teenagers made the journey from their local dry ski slope to the European Alps. In the 1970’s there were no performance pathways, sports institutes or athlete support services. Instead there was an abundance of passion, single mindedness, sense of purpose and dreams and the support of some brilliant home coaches, pals and transit vans, all of which contributed to the journey being made from hill to mountains. It’s my hope that this story of my journey will be interesting, inform and inspire.
‘Inside – Out’ an Instructor training session at The Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead.
Here's an article I wrote in the summer of 2016 about how 'practicing on purpose' adds value to the quality of your training. The article was published last Autumn in the Annual Publication of the National Schools Snowsport Association (NSSA), 'Schools Snowsports'. The link below takes you to the whole magazine, my article is on page 12.
There are some interesting articles in the magazine; one from Pete Gilespie Head of Snowsports at the Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead; another about a Schools ski racing in Wales written by Robin Kellen the Chief Executive of Snowsport Wales, and articles describing the system of coach and instructor education in the UK. There's alot of interesting stuff in there.
Also here's the link for the NSSA, a 'not for profit' organisation which is doing some great things for schools snowpsorts.
It’s all there within us already; we often have the tendency to look outside ourselves for the way forward, ways to live our lives and searching outward to find what it is we desire and achieve. The problem with this is that what we find when we look outward is tainted by the world we live in, by societies norms, and the preferences of others. By looking outward we feel the ‘should’ arising within us and the ‘should’ seldom contain the essence of who we are. Having said this, I suspect that many of us realise that such endeavours are futile and that we are looking in places which won’t reveal the answers we are seeking
Mindfulness is much about being centred in one’s own body, in one’s being, moving through one’s day with a focused knowing of who one is and what one is being. We are aware of each present moment remaining conscious of our internal domain, what we are experiencing inside and of our interaction with others and our environment. We recognise the influences from within and from out-with. We notice our actions and reactions with an inquiring mind, leaving capacity to notice the background chatter of preferences and opinions. We neither become involved in our internal dramas nor deny them, they are a welcomed guest. Somewhere from this place of being calmness and kindness, towards others and our self, is cultivated and our day seems to flow smoothly reducing fear, friction and frustration. This is not to say that problems and challenges do not appear, they may, but they are met from mind and being states which sees them for what they are and we take them in our stride.
Here's a couple of links to films by Sherpas Cinema, who have won a host of awards, you'll know why when you see them. I really like them, and see in them an attention to moments, sometimes slowed, which when explored moves our experience towards mindfulness - the noticing of present moments.
It brought to mind how films / videos trigger a whole host of thoughts, emotions and mind states - all of which have an impact on our attitude, at least momentarily and often for quite sometime. I reflected on where the motivation, desire and inspiration for venturing into the mountains on skis and snowboards originates.
Be accepting of what you are as a skier, now in this present moment, and you will become the skier you know you can become.
Letting go of the fighting with your judgemental critical self can be the most liberating, valuable process in your skiing development. Use the energy you have now to really connect with your present moment experiences of skiing to the full. This means no capacity for judging your performance, let it flow uninterrupted from self-critical quips. Instead notice the experiences of skiing through your body, in your muscles, your limb movements, the forces of the mountain pressing and pushing on your body, notice and learn to recognise them – for in recognition one sees what is; absent from frustration, fear and fantasy our body and mind begin to complement one another, each knowing the other’s strengths and drawing the best from both.
There have been some significant business figures advocating meditation as a daily practice for enhancing decision making and leadership in the work place. Below is a quote by Steve Jobs which was included in an article in the Financial Times on Mindfulness in the professional context. The link to that full text is below.
This research looked into mindful based learning in a sport, Alpine Skiing, context. Its focus is the learners experience of mindful learning. What motivated the need to research this subject was the recognition that a significant block to learning is the way Learners learn, often over thinking, over analysing, critically judging and generally having a low, negative perception of their own performance.
I would sincerely like to thank all the staff and members of the Aberdeen Snowsports Centre who took part in the coaching sessions. You all had so much enthusiasm, interest, humour and an open approach, for which I am very grateful, thank you. Also, I want to acknowledge the help I received from Ski School Director, Beth Woodhall, who was always positive about the project and very helpful in making the sessions happen, thank you.