Freeskier Caite Zeliff talks about training for success

As you likely already know by now, we’ve partnered with top athletes in the fields of climbing, skiing and adventuring to highlight our mantra of Look first / Then leap. One of our brand ambassadors is the freeskier, Caite Zeliff.

An only child to a single mom, Caite found skiing a little later than most – through a school program. But what she lacked in experience, she made up for in effort and hard work, and has since clinched Jackson Hole’s much coveted Queen of Corbet’s Couloir title, not once but twice. She’s now considered one of the most exciting, up-and coming names in freeskiing.

We sat down with Caite to uncover a little bit more about what makes her tick and how she trains for success, every day.

Hey Caite, good to chat. So, in your experience, how does one become good at something?
It’s a combination of time and a genuine love for whatever you are trying to get good at. From my experience, time spent doing something – over and over again – absorbing all the info, insights and understanding you can, and just putting the hours into doing whatever it is you are trying to master – that’s one part of it. I have also found that if you truly love whatever it is you are trying to get good at, doing it a lot and immersing yourself in it is a much more enjoyable (and therefore, maintainable) process in the long run.

How often do you train?

How do you train?
In the summer I will train in the mountains, running uphill or in the gym lifting weights to get strong. I also like to cross-train, so I ride bikes, paraglide, and go backpacking. I find doing other sports is really helpful in developing the skills needed for skiing, like balance, hand-to-eye coordination and beyond. I also find making training fun, and switching it up, is helpful for keeping me motivated.

As I get closer to ski season, I zone in more on strength and injury prevention and target muscle groups that are more skiing specific. Then, when winter rolls around, I continue to train but I might scale back the workouts and focus on spending most of my time clicked into my skis. But I also make sure to recover and stretch, as well as shift my training practice inward. I focus on the mind with meditation and breath-work to get me through the scary days or the really trying days in the mountains.

How do you motivate yourself when things get difficult?
That's a good one. For me, the motivation piece is constantly changing – sometimes my goals motivate me, or the love of skiing, or the desire to get better. Sometimes friends can motivate me or even having a workout that kicks my butt can motivate me to keep working to get better, stronger, and faster. The motivation factor is always changing but I think, ultimately, it is my love of the sport and the desire to be the best that keeps me plugging along.

Is it better to be specific, or broad, in your approach to getting better at something?
I think a combination is important. Sometimes, focusing on really specific parts of something is important to nail down that move, trick, or whatever it may be. But I also notice, if I focus too hard for too long on something, I can overthink it. I will get in my head and find myself in a rut.

If that happens, I step away and go for a more broad approach until I am feeling ready to get more specific again. It's all a balance and I do my best to listen to my body and mind and cater to whatever is needed at a certain time.

Any practical tips or advice you can think of to help people get better at their chosen passion?
I think keeping it fun and enjoying yourself is really important. It’s easy to get all intense and take the fun out of something. But remembering why you started in the first place, and doing whatever that thing may be just for yourself – I find that really important for longevity and success.

Thanks, Caite.

We have more mini-interviews with Caite and others heading down the pipe soon, so make sure to keep an eye on Editors’ Picks in the near future.

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