Nearly every sport in the Winter Olympics is a crazy test of courage. Think about ski jumpers: They have to shut off the part of their brain that says, “Whoa, sit back, you’re diving head first off a mountain.” Skaters balance on thin blades as they spin like tops. And don’t even get me started on skeleton sliders… they’re crazy! No matter how many times I watch these athletes, I’m always in awe of their courage. So I was surprised to read an article in Monday’s New York Times about gold-medalist Hannah Kearney’s fear of flipping.
Hannah says, “I’ve been flipping for six years now, but I’m still learning to overcome the fear.” What?! This girl won gold in the ski moguls, a sport where back flips are now standard. It floored me that she could do something so dangerous that scares her. But she said, “If I make up my mind to do something, most of the time I’m going to do it.” And so she practiced on a trampoline, and then progressed to flipping into water, until finally her skills gave her the confidence to hit the snow.
I’ll never be an Olympian, but I do have plenty of athletic fears, and I’m proud to say that I’ve conquered two of them in a similar way. A few years ago, I wanted to get my Scuba certification, but I was terrified of the swim test. So I took swimming lessons at the YMCA until I was comfortable doing laps—and I easily passed the exam. And this year, I finally learned how to snowboard after years of being scared to turn on my toe side.
Whether it’s running a marathon, learning how to ski, joining a soccer league, or just taking a new group-fitness class, conquer one of your athletic fears this year. It’s exhilarating to accomplish something that scares you!