Monday, February 17, 2014

A Lesson from Downhill Skiing

"sitting on the top of a hill"
2 Kings 1:9

The past couple of days I've been enjoying the downhill skiing portion of the Olympic experience.  "Alpine Skiing," they call it.  Downhill, Super G (no idea what that stands for.... gravity, maybe??  Wait -- I just asked my sweetie, and he said he thinks it's short for "Super Giant Slalom".) Slalom, Giant Slalom and Combined.  All different in their own way, but lots of fast, and lots of down. 

We saw slalom when we were at the Salt Lake City Olympics.  It was an incredibly snowy day, though, and it was very hard to see the top half of the mountain, even on the video screens.  Hard to believe that spectators used to watch events without video screens!  But it was plenty exciting to see them come around the turn and out of the snowy air to race toward the finish line. 

I still remember the woman who took the gold in the race we watched.  Her name is Janica Kostelic, and she's from Croatia.  She was Croatia's golden girl, I think, beloved in her country, and it was so much fun to see how excited her countrymen were.  I was cheering right along with them!  And I've had a soft spot in my heart for Croatia ever since. 

Plus, they have a cool flag. 

Flag of Croatia.svg

But I've noticed something this time around that has intrigued me.  And I've seen it a few times in the past week.  It happens when the skiers are in their own world, pre-race.  Sometimes they are listening to music on their headphones (or "earbuds" as the kids call them today).  Sometimes their eyes are closed.  But what I love is that they are "rehearsing" the run in their mind, and with their bodies.  More than one I've seen in the "skiing" position, but just standing, holding imaginary "poles" in their hands, and running through the course they are about to ski.  And one girl I saw sort of squatting, on her bottom, but with her legs up in the air, mimicking that low-down position that skiers take when they're going fast. 

I love two things about this.  First, their focus.  I love that they take it so seriously that just training runs are not enough.  It's not just physical practice, it's mental practice. 

And secondly, I love that they know the course well enough, that they are even able go over it in their minds.  I don't know whether it's because they have run it so many times, or because they've studied the run visually, or what.  But they know they can't do their best if they are unprepared for any part of the course.  There are too many variables already ~ wind, temperature, condition of the snow, etc.

I wonder if it would work to run through my day this way, especially on a day when I'm anticipating challenges.  That would be a wonderful prayer time, wouldn't it?  Going over with Him what you're going to work on, each bump and curve, the ins and outs of your day... to be as prepared as possible for the predictable parts so that you have energy and patience in the unpredictable parts. 

A little focus, a little eyes-closed, a little quiet time for Him to guide you through what's expected.  And then it'll be all downhill from there. 

~ "Whoever does not practice righteousness
is not of God" ~
1 John 3:10

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