The religion of skiing

Posted By: The Ski Channel on October 28, 2009 4:20 pm

Wayne Sheldrake is the author of Instant Karma: the Heart and Soul of a Ski Bum. He’s written an article in Inside Outside Magazine entitled “Surfing, Science, and the Religion of Skiing”. I recommend you read it. Basically, Sheldrake interviews Steven Kotler, author of West of Jesus: Surfing, Science and the Origins of Belief, and they discuss how skiing and surfing can be equated to religion. Indeed, many people, including The Ski Channel writer and host Mr. Zeke Piestrup have called skiing their religion.

What is it about our sport that puts it at such an ethereal level for some folks? Kotler commented that both skiing and surfing require a lot of muscle memory, figuring out the perfect stance. He and Sheldrake go on to say, “of course, when you’re talking about muscle memory, you aren’t really talking about muscles. You’re talking about neurology – the brain. Kotler reminds us, “Evolution designed the brain to detect meaning.” Meaning is especially vital when we are faced with inexplicably confusing or overwhelmingly fearful or just plan lucky-seeming events. This in mind, a literal adjustment in Kotler’s surfing stance opened up a new world. Epiphany hit. “The world vanished. There was no self. No other. For an instant I didn’t know where I ended and the wave began.” It was a religious-like experience for a man who had rejected religion…Why do you feel like skiing is your religion? Your brain has to. Without something to believe in, your brain knows it’s dying faster than a brain that believes.”

Confused? Taken out of context, it seems kind of strange, but please read the article (linked above in the words ‘read it’). It’s fascinating stuff. If you have anything to add to why skiing is your religion, we welcome all comments.