When i was growing up, my parents exposed me to lots of on-hill sports, but I never took advantage of them. I did the same thing every day and played within my comfort zone.
Ten years ago, I became bored with alpine skiing, so I jumped on a pair of telemark skis to spice up my hill time. It was difficult to become the one flailing down the hill with free heels and wobbly bindings, but I stuck with it until I mastered the sport. What really surprised me was when I got back on my alpine skis: My balance and strength had improved dramatically. I learned that if you want to progress as a skier, you've got to push your limits in different ways.
The best approach is to change up your skiing or riding tools. Even though you may not be as good on a snowboard or alpine skis, switching it up gives you a feel for snow on different planes and improves your balance and coordination. For example, a snowboard is a great tool for learning how to balance along a lateral plane; it's very unlike the fore and aft moves in alpine or telemark skiing. If you're already a telemark skier, switching to alpine forces you to balance without being able to lift up your heels and teaches you how to pressure a ski to carve. Alpine skiers moving to telemarking will find improved leg strength and core balance.
Whichever gear you choose to try, making yourself adaptable to any conditions on any tool will help you become a much more agile skier.
Height: 5 feet 8 inches
Weight: 165 pounds
Home Area: Big Mountain, MT
Accomplishments: Two-time overall Telemark World Cup Champion.
Worst Learning Experience: "When I first started to telemark ski, I crashed practically every run, all season long. With patience, I slowly improved, but then the same thing happened when I started telemark racing. So I set a far-reaching goal of eventually winning the overall World Cup title, forcing myself to ski at a much higher level. Within three years, I won the overall World Cup twice. By setting goals, I skied harder and improved faster than if I had merely aimed for not falling during training."