14February 2020

Bonus Pitch: Ski Lessons for Life

I keep a running Word doc with all my potential Yodel ideas.

It’s a strange file, not readable to anyone but me. It’s fragments and half-finished thoughts – messages that could be a fit for some issue in the future.

Or sometimes they’re bookmarks in stories from our lives. A few words marked down to trigger a memory of something poignant, or funny, or instructive; something I know is worth sharing if I can get through to the meaning.

Those fragments, which have made it into Yodels past, read like this:

Dog fell off cornice // Five hours freezing at LAX // Abandoned Jeff in Mexico // My pride vs. Swedish ski lift // Hokey-pokey in ski sweaters // The banjo

If nothing feels inspiring, I corner Rudi and get him to tell me a story or two. He barely has to try. They’re always gold.

I had been staring at one note, and coming up with nothing, for so long: The Lessons That Have Changed The Way I Think About Skiing.

How DO I think about skiing?

I went looking for assistance, canvassing our team for answers:

‘Hmmm, I dunno…. it’s just pure awesome.’

‘Best thing ever?’


‘Fun. Glide. Pow. Speed. Is any of this helping?’

It was not.

Though they’re all thoughtful, articulate people, we realized together that it’s really hard to find the words that properly capture all the feelings at the far end of the fun spectrum.

Have you ever noticed that? The best kind of fun and the worst kind of pain – words just fail. They can both sound like a primal ‘Aaaahhhhhh!’

So we threw in the towel, and flipped the script:

What about the SKI Lessons That Have Changed The Way I Think About LIFE?

It’s quite possible we’ve always felt the same way about skiing: eyes focused, belly laughing, shit-eating grin.

What do we learn out there that comes home? What’s the bonus pitch?


  • Look where you want to go, not at the trees. Train yourself to see opportunities, not obstacles.
  • Failure is part of the process. We leave our comfort zone. We crash. We get better.
  • Everything can change in a day. Patience, presence, humility.

It’s good stuff. Resilient stuff.

When we shared the trailer for Downhill Racer in the story about Rudi’s stuntman days, Jeff and I laughed so hard at Gene Hackman’s super dramatic line to Redford, when he’s scolding him for being a reckless, uncultured bad boy: “All you’ve ever had was your skis. And that’s not enough.”

Huh. Maybe it is….?

The only stereotypical ‘lesson’ from the ski world that didn’t seem to fit was ‘no friends on a powder day.’

I mean, who are you gonna high five at the bottom with, holler at the sky with, and have absolutely no words to capture it all with?


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