Japan is my favorite place to travel, and now having spent a few days up North in the Niseko area, Japan is furthering its lead from the rest of the pack. The energy here is unmatched, the culture is thick and deeply rooted, the people are warm and welcoming, and the snow is light and deep. This trip is bringing me back to my roots, giving me the opportunity to remember where my love of skiing began, to reconnect with my inner self in a physical way. To step away from the competition scene and take a few deep breathes. To slow my pace, lower the intensity and just ski for the pure love and joy of it all.
And so far, so good. I already feel rejuvenated from one night of skiing at Grand Hirafu and one full day at Hanazona. The pace is so much slower than on the competition circuit. When I'm competing I will ski for 2-3 very intense hours- lots of laps, lots of pushing myself, lots of pressure. But here days are long. You'll get to the top of a zone and stand and wait, then wait some more- photogs need to set up... Then you'll drop and make 3 turns or hit one feature. Then you wait. A single lap can take an hour and a half. But it teaches you patience and discipline, and exercises focus in an entirely new way. Not to mention, you learn to let go of instant gratification. When competing you know right away how you did- the judges give you feedback. But out here, you won't see your shots for days, weeks, months... ultimately you just learn to let go, to trust in the process, to enjoy the stillness and appreciate the skiing when it is there.
Tomorrow we're headed to do some road laps in a zone called "Stairway to Hell." Doesn't exactly sound as relaxing as I was just making it out to be... but it will be incredible. And thanks to Giro, I get to spend my day tomorrow with an amazing group of athletes- enjoying their company, learning from them, and growing closer together.