This Proves it: Skiers Make Better Lovers

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Let’s face it. I’m a lucky woman. When not getting paid to ski around, start avalanches with explosives and help injured skiers and snowboarders, I write about it (see, I’m learning to include snowboarders in the discussion, maybe I’m not such a Bad Kim after all.) While researching my new book on risk and action sports, I’ve talked to thrilling athletes, interviewed fascinating scientists and unearthed interesting archives. Yesterday I found this 34-year-old newspaper clipping about skiing and risk, and why it makes us better lovers and well, quite frankly, better people. Of course, this was written before snowboarding, so I’m sure it would apply to them as well. This article was originally published in New London, Connecticut’s Daily The Day January 20th, 1978. It’s a keeper.

Skiers Are Better Lovers Part 1

Skiers Part 2

This sort of proves it. Skiing is good for you. What Sol Roy Rosenthal didn’t know about back in the 70s was the connection that dopamine played in our reward system. The euphoria experienced by extreme athletes is connected to dopamine, which makes us want to keep coming back to the slopes or the waves or the rock walls and experience it again. But most intriguing in Rosenthal’s research is how he claims taking calculated risks increases our awareness while pinpointing our focus, sort of opening us while honing us in all at once. If seeing the big picture with the ability to focus on the moment doesn’t make us better people, better lovers and better skiers (or snowboarders), than I don’t know what will.

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10 responses »

    • I’ve read these links. What interests me most about Rosenthal is his willingness to go beyond the science and say that risk-exercise is necessary for a full life. Now that scientists have identified the cause of the euphoria–dopamine–the questions are not “how do we get more people into these kinds of sports?”, but instead investigating the science of the brain. Neuroscience is fascinating, but I’d also like to see a connection between these discoveries and advice on living well.

  1. While some of Rosenthal’s quotes sound a little theatrical (“sunken chest”?), these points resonate with me. My parents are both in their 70s; my father grew up in the post-Depression midwest, and my mother grew up literally in a war zone. Neither of them have any understanding for why I do the things I do – which may be extreme compared to the average US population, but are pretty tame compared to what you do. I think that for them, having grown up with so much uncertainty and inherent danger, they’ve experienced plenty of risk and then some. On the other hand, I grew up in total suburban safety and security, and I need to expose myself to some degree of risk to feel alive.

    • Well said, Monique. Two of your points are especially salient. First, I find we all have a danger quotient. It can change through exposure, but many of us feel that we need a certain amount, and when we reach our quotient we step back for a while. Second, you mention “the things (you) do” as being extreme compared to others, but not to what I do. This is an interesting response, because it’s one I have all the time. Looking at others, I feel lame in comparison. And yet, compared to some I take more risks. In fact, the preface for my next book (which I’m working on now) is all about how I compare myself to others. I’m hoping to answer the question, “what do they (the extreme experts) have that I don’t have?” What I’m finding is that we all have our comfort zone, and we all push ourselves to our own edge. And that’s where the learning and growth happen.

      • I think it comes down to risk v. reward. Reward is obviously personal and subjective – how awesome will you feel having done X? But risk is also personal, although perhaps not subjective. Risk encompasses both the likelihood of the event and the impact of the event. Both a novice skier and I could decide to ski close to the side of the trail to get freshies. We both could hit a tree with catastrophic results, but arguably the chance of me doing so is much lower than the chance of someone who has less experience. (You could argue that I’d be going faster and so the impact increases etc, but that’s a bit of a rabbit hole.)

        So if a decision to do something can be calculated by reward (personal,subjective) vs. possible impact (objective) vs. likelihood (personal) – I do not see myself as “lame” compared to you, but I do see myself as less experienced, and so the likelihood of getting hurt is much higher for me. Is it possible the same thing is going on when you see someone doing something you don’t want to do?

        I just read through the book Squallywood (I mostly got it to read all the GNAR points and deductions, which were pretty much already covered in the movie). Every single line described in the book is either a straight-line steep or a 20+ foot air. It is possible that I will never be comfortable doing any of those lines, and yet there are clearly people for whom that’s just part of the ski experience. I don’t think I’m lame for not being prepared to ski that. Maybe in some other life …

        • The “red car phenomenon” is when you buy a new (ostensibly red) car, and you suddenly see red cars everywhere. It’s like that with me and risk. And flow. And the risk/reward calculus. And Cziksentmihayli. All of a sudden everyone is talking about these things. I want to reach out and give you a hug Monique. And suck your brain dry of all they witty connections between risk and reward and use them in my book. You’re awesome.

          • Aw, shucks. Thank you. I love noodling about this stuff – it’s been on my mind a lot, too, although I haven’t researched it as you have. Feel free to look me up – I’ll send you a FB friend invite that you are under no obligation to accept. It would be unspeakably cool to contribute enough to get a nod or a quote in your book.

  2. Ha, I think I remember bumper stickers or ad campaigns from when I was a kid skiing in the 1970s that said “Skiers Make Better Lovers.” This is all interesting and made me think of how absolutely euphoric I felt while skiing at Crystal a few weeks ago on a bluebird day. After sticking on the mellower runs most of the day with slower friends and kids, a dad and I cut out and took some faster runs out in Snorting Elk bowl and Kelly’s Gap. It was just so….fun!!!! I still get a happy surge just thinking about it.

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