Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Fantastic Race

"Chance favors the prepared mind" - Louis Pasteur

All Nordic skiers dream of having great races.  We want that transcendent experience where everything flows smoothly, we ski our very best, and have an exceptional result.  How do we get there?

I watched a good TED talk ( by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of the best-selling novel "Eat, Pray, Love".   She ponders why so many artists are self-destructive or suicidal.  To find an explanation she examined how ancient Greek and Roman artists differed in how they viewed the creative process.  In those times artists credited their creative vision to a Genius, an external spirit,  that would possess them and provide the creative material that they merely had to record with pen, paint, or carving.  This took a lot of pressure off the artist.  Bad work?  It's just that the Genius didn't show up.  Great work? Can't take too much credit for it and get a swelled head.   Ms. Gilbert suggests that modern artists swing between narcissism after a triumph to despair after a subpar performance.  The ancients kept a more level keel since they viewed an external force as the source of both success and failure.  She suggested that modern artists can take the same attitude by just showing up every day to do their work and to not worry about forcing creativity.  They can wait "for a muse of fire to descend".  Sometimes it will and sometimes it won't.

I thought how this idea might apply to ski racers.  Think about your best results.  Did you know ahead of time that you were going to have a great race?  Or did it take you by surprise?  I know in my experience there is no correlation between my feeling before a race and its outcome.  Days where I felt sick or ill-prepared I've had dream results while on days where I thought I'd have a great day I have seen it all fall apart.  Often things outside of my control such as weather, wax, equipment, or competitors  have determined the outcome.  I think we can follow Ms. Gilbert's advice to artists: just show up every day, do your best work, be patient, and the Genius will appear on some days with the inspiration for an exceptional performance.   If you fall flat don't beat yourself up.  When you really shine enjoy the moment, but don't get full of yourself.  We need to complete our part of the bargain by being as well-prepared as possible.  When your good Genius inspires you then you be ready for that fantastic race.

CSU girls were well-prepared to take advantage of conditions to be named number 1 club team in the U.S. at SoHo JNs.

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