This is not going to be a feel-good story about overcoming adversity and achieving a goal in life. This reality hits me when I lie in the snow on the ground of the park and assess the damage. My hip hurts My ankles are bloody. My shoulder could have slipped. This is the case when you try to ski a 360 but only turn it 200 degrees. A snowboarder drives past me while vaping and lands his own 360 while blowing a cloud in my direction. Ladies and gentlemen, this is my midlife crisis.
You have seen the midlife crisis before. At this stage, triggered by a vague sense of dissatisfaction, a man makes some really bad decisions, such as: B. running away with the yoga teacher or buying lederhosen. I've seen some doozies in my time, but the midlife crisis doesn't have to set fire to the life you built. It can be a beautiful thing – a transformation from one phase of your life to the next, like a second puberty, but with a little less masturbation. I'm pushing 45 and determined to use my own boredom in middle age as a catalyst for growth. Yes, I'm older, but I still want to be a better athlete, a better adventurer, maybe even a better husband and parent. And for me this journey starts with nailing a 360.
Hit a jump, do a full turn in the air, land, and drive away. Sounds easy right?
"It's a breakthrough for a skier," says Olympic champion Jonny Moseley. “A rite of passage that divides us. You can do a 360 or not. If you break through to a 3, you have arrived and will be in a special group for the rest of your life. "
Shit, I want to be in that particular group so I reached out to Moseley for help in getting this crucial move on. It turns out he's really good at teaching the 3. He just taught his son how to land his first 3. His son is 10 years old.
Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP / Shutterstock
"I don't know I've ever taught one to an adult," he tells me. "I think that's cool though. It's never too late."
As I straighten up from the floor after another failure, I think Moseley is full of shit. Maybe it's too late for me to learn this trick. Luckily my shoulder hasn't slipped, but it hurts like hell. I watch a couple of middle school students try their own 360s on the edge of the park. They're no better at it than me, but when they hit the ground they jump back and giggle. I do not jump. I don't giggle.
At the beginning of the season, Moseley set out the progression of the steps I had to take to achieve this. Throwing a 3 on skis starts with throwing a 3 in tennis shoes. It's harder than it sounds. Then throw a 3 with just your ski boots. Then click on your skis and cycle through a series of 180s. This is a relatively safe development that should instill confidence in the skier before proceeding with any further step.
The key is to get your weight over your toes just like you do a box jump. The biggest difference is that you have 10 pounds worth of equipment on your feet, which makes jumping darn hard. But I do pretty well doing baby jumps and side hits in the park and throwing 180s with serenity. I send Moseley videos of my progress and he hits me back with wisdom nuggets, making me put my elbow through the rotation and take off from my right foot. Landing a 180 feels good and gives me some level of credibility with the park rats who usually ignore me, but 180 is a long 360 degree way and I'm running out of time.
On the surface, the midlife crisis is about getting out of your comfort zone. Have you been driving a minivan for 20 years? Get a Corvette that can't carry children. Married for a few decades? Connect with this barista who doesn't shave her armpits. Before trying to learn the 360, I hadn't ridden outside my comfort zone in decades. I can ski tough terrain – I love trees, bumps and steppes and have had some incredible skiing adventures in my day. I would say I'm a good skier, but I haven't gotten any better in years. Maybe decades. The last "trick" I learned was an outspread eagle. I think I was 13.
Moseley says that most skiers have reached a certain level and only one plateau. "But you should still be longing to improve as an adult."
However, it is easy to lose the drive. I blame my children. And work. And garbage day and insurance premiums and gutter repairs … When you are 40 there is so much going on in your life that it suddenly seems ridiculous to be able to ski better. But it's not ridiculous, not if it makes you happy. You want to change your life, start with the little things. Wake up earlier. Stop eating fries. Throw yourself around the snow like the ski gods you admired.
Just be ready for the consequences. I'm in a vicious circle of try, hurt, rest, try, hurt, rest … The tiny muscles around my hips feel like they're on fire. I can't sleep on my right side because my shoulder is sore. One day I had to take off my skis and do yoga up on the mountain before I could even walk. It is unworthy. But I'm sticking to it and jumping into the trick with more vigor than I've ever pursued since convincing my wife to marry me. I am trying visualization techniques. I dream about it. I give myself a mantra on the lift up the mountain and keep repeating "Pop and Rotate". I try peer pressure and bring out a friend to mock me. thing works. I'm stuck at 180.
The last day of the season is a dark affair for me. It's cloudy and drizzling. I ski in the southern Appalachian Mountains to make the snow thinner. My shoulder hurts but I try, find a little crack and hit one 180 at a time, but I eat it hard when I try a full 3. I can get maybe 220 degrees around but never the full turn. If I had a second left in the air I could do it, but the Terrain Park is closed and this half-hearted kicker is the only jump on my little mountain. It becomes apparent that this will be a story of failure. It's about attacking a goal and just falling a little short. It's depressing, but Moseley is optimistic.
"You're there," he says, reminding me that it's okay to let it go now. "If you don't get to a goal, it sucks, but your mind has a way of figuring things out, even if you're not exercising. The next time you do it, you'll get it."
May be. But perhaps such an attempt is not about success. Maybe it's about trying it yourself. I'm a better skier now than I was at the beginning of the season. I can't remember the last time I could honestly say it. I've skied more this winter than in previous years because I had a tangible goal. More importantly, skiing was fun again. It was dangerous, scary, and fun because I was trying something new and hard. Wasn't that what I wanted from my midlife crisis anyway? And I'll take what I built this season and attack the 3 again next winter. I might hit 45, but learned I wasn't done yet. There is still room to grow and improve. I can always get better.
Subscribe to YouTube for access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more!