What’s Your Road for Backcountry Skiing Excellence?


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

Out ski touring last weekend, this couplet appeared out of the fog like a word from the guy upstairs.

Your road, stay on it.

Your road, stay on it.

Then a few days later I read a column by business guru Harvey Mackay, where he says success in any endeavor is frequently the result of more hard work than many people realize. Rule of thumb is you need around 10,000 hours practice to become really good at just about anything.

Mackay leads into his column by mentioning a book, “Outliers: The Story of Success,” which describes how much the Beatles did for their rule. Turns out they played clubs for around 7 years — frequently for 8 hours a night. Thus, the Fab Four ended up performing live at least 1,200 times before their world invasion began in 1964, not including their practice sessions.

Your road. Stay on it.

Comments

8 Responses to “What’s Your Road for Backcountry Skiing Excellence?”

  1. Chase Harrison December 3rd, 2008 10:23 am

    As Allen Iverson once said,
    “Practice, Practice, man, we’er talking about Practice.

  2. Jeff C December 3rd, 2008 11:44 am

    ^^^not a game? Practice?

    classic quote! Worth a youtube search “Iverson practice”

  3. Mike December 3rd, 2008 1:13 pm

    Thanks for the link. Mackay is a fixture of the Twin Cities business community. Nice to read one of his columns again after missing so many – I often forget how connected we are because of the Internet. My grandfather ( a Harvey Mackay type ) always referred to what Mackay describes as “invisible success”.

  4. pete anzalone December 3rd, 2008 4:30 pm

    As the old joke goes …. in NYC, one man asks another, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” to which the second man answers, “Practice, practice, practice.”

    A.I. notwithstanding.

    Excellent Mackay piece – thanks for the link.

  5. George Laquian December 3rd, 2008 7:34 pm

    So based on an average of 5 hours of quality snow time per outing (not including driving- just time on the board), 50 days a year for an average season, and 25 winter riding seasons, I’m 6250 hours into this learning curve of mastery.

    Yeah, 10,000 hours of practice seems about right…. I better get cracking at upping my game!

  6. Yuani Ruiz December 4th, 2008 2:14 pm

    10,000 hours – that’s about 5 years at a ‘full time’ job. “The harder I work, the luckier I get” Samuel Goldwyn (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer). Nothing like having a motivational calendar on your desk.

  7. Lou December 4th, 2008 5:15 pm

    I think that’s why if you really want to learn to downhill ski well, you’ve got to put in a lot of days on the ski lifts… But the 10,000 hour figure sounds a bit excessive since even while lift skiing you don’t get in all that much time actually making turns. BUT, I’d say 10,000 hours is about right for mastering something as complex as both downhill skiing AND ski mountaineering combined. Basically, lots and lots of full days out there, for years.

    One point I’ve always tried to make with the kids is that though they ski well, they might be amazed at how much there is to learn and how long it’ll take before they really become a master. It’s the old deal where one has to be careful not to equate athletic ability with wisdom (or acting ability, for that matter, as in celebrity politico endorsements…)

  8. Matt Kinney December 4th, 2008 11:19 pm

    Good article and agree. So many fail because of silver spoon intitlements versus “crawling before walking” in the business world. The exceptions are very rare. Do what you love to do and do it passionately,

    This is just an attempt to put that number to actual “on skis skiing” time. for those of us trying to get by in the ski industry. Nice thing about skinninig for turns is the amount of time one actually spends on skiis which is “bucko” more than lifts, motor or rotor assisted. Never learn anything sitting and waiting,

    Here’s my math…30 years X 100+ days X 3-4 hours each skin day = ??? Is there a Chuigach factor muliplier?

    And I still cross my tips, Go figure, . (-; .

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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