It takes a lot of time and energy to head into the backcountry solely to hit a jump. But it's still one of the most fun things to do on skis. So when Todd Ligare and I had the chance to head up to Smith's private backcountry park in Idaho -- and essentially skip the majority of booter labor -- we didn't hesitate.
We've both spent a reasonable amount of time in the park throughout our careers. However, as the old saying goes, "If you don't use it, you lose it," and this may never be truer than when it comes to tricks. Spins and flips that seemed to be on lockdown a few years ago are now like trying to retrieve a calculus formula from a high school math class: It's somewhere in there, but you're not really sure if you should use it.
I wish I could say that after a few cat-out-the-window hits, it all came rushing back. Of course, it did a little, but I never felt completely back on my game. However, more important than re-learning a bag of tricks is the feeling of standing on top of something with your skis on, uncertain if you can pull off what you have planned in your mind's eye. Regardless of your genre of skiing or skill, this is a feeling that every skier can relate to. The more time you can spend in this mental space, mastering it, the better. Re-learning tricks is great, but it's the confidence that is gained from this feeling that translates to success in other areas of skiing, which for us was Alaska.