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I used to get overwhelmed by fear and adrenaline before dropping into difficult terrain. I’d dwell on how terrible it might be if I crashed. That kind of thinking became very stressful, which made me tense and injury-prone.

The thing I do now is visualize skiing like someone else. “Visualization” may sound like some smarmy yoga line, but it’s one of the most effective tools I use to calm my nerves at the top of a big line. I pick skiers whose skills I admire or someone who I’ve watched ski the line-or one similar to it. I usually choose to visualize someone powerful, such as Jeremy Nobis or Shane McConkey.

I keep them in my mind until I can feel what it would be like to ski like that person. By the time I drop in, I have the positive reinforcement that it can be done. I calm down and breathe, and it gives me amazing confidence.

Aleisha Cline
Age: 33
Height: 5 feet 10 inches
Weight: 155 pounds
Home Area: Whistler Blackcomb, B.C.
Accomplishments: 2001 World Skiercross Champion; four-time X Games Skiercross gold medalist; former women’s speed skiing record holder (135 mph), 2001 World Tour Big Mountain Freeskiing Champion.
Worst Learning Experience: “I’d just had it with being outside in the sun, racing my bike for an entire summer. Even though I was working out, I wasn’t specifically working out my skiing muscles. So, I decided to leap into a full-blown training routine. I hit the gym, hammered the free weights, and tried to get in killer shape in one day. The next day I was in so much pain I couldn’t even move. I lost the rest of the week for training and realized I could have really damaged my body by going out so hard. Now I pace myself and try to work up to where I left off at the end of the previous season.”