Ski to Live - Your life as a journey?

Kristen Ulmer // 02.06.09

by Kristen Ulmer, extreme-ski pioneer and world traveler

I used to be a professional Big Mountain skier - basically I jumped off cliffs and skied you-fall-you-die exposures around the world for extreme skiing films and ski magazines.

Now I facilitate the intersection of sport, adventure, and Infinite wisdom about life's journeys in clinics at Utah ski resorts and which attract intelligent, stimulating skiers and snowboarders who want to explore consciousness, innate wisdom and what it means to be a human being.

"The journey"

A little bird is flying in the forest. Suddenly he sees a great fire below, raging out of control. "My home!" he cries, and flies to the lake to gather a beak full of water. Flying back to the fire, he drops his little bundle of water onto the inferno, then races back to the lake. Over and over he repeats the gesture until he becomes so exhausted, he falls into the fire and dies.

Is this a beautiful story or a sad story for you?

In sports - we have exhilarating moments, sure, flying around our own forest, yet like the bird we also struggle- through injury, through disappointment, through aging, for our entire lives. I know as I get older and nurse my ski injuries, my new goal as an athlete is to get worse at my sport every year, yet be ok with it. I continue pouring beakfuls of water on such fires daily.

What if this story were part of your travels through life? Most of us love sad stories, eh? They're familiar. They move us, comfort us, make the struggle of being human seem more touching. Perhaps if we see this story as a sad part of the overall journey, it won't seem sad, it'll seem beautiful. Graceful. Like an athlete struggling to learn some hard lessons.

I love the hard lessons, maybe more than the easy lessons. I love fighting the fire. My travels help me explore my own life. The challenges make me feel the most alive and curious.

That's a journey worth taking...


Ski to Live

Ski To Live is a stunning long-weekend event for all levels of skiers, combining travel to one of the most beautiful places on Earth, Utah, and one of the places many people don't want to go, inside themselves to learn who they are as athletes and human beings.

Through on-mountain coaching and evening Big Mind experiences—Ski To Live will help you find true motivation in skiing, snowboarding and life.

The Canyons, Utah Feb. 26-March 1

Alta, Utah April 2-5


Kristen Ulmer was an American pioneer of the Extreme Sports revolution. Starting in the early 90's as a mogul specialist on the US Ski Team, she decided to leave the team to pursue a career jumping off cliffs for cameras and skiing you-fall-you-die ski descents around the world.

Subsequently, for a run of 12 years, Kristen was voted or named the best big mountain (extreme) and often overall woman skier in the world by the media and her industry peers, including Olympic Gold medalists. Powder Magazine called her "The biggest icon the ski industry never expected" and the "protoplasmic mass of the ski industry" in a cover-feature about her life.

That's all behind her now. Kristen quit everything in 2003 in a sudden turn to start a new trend in sports training, introducing mental and spiritual—not religious—aspects to winter sports. To create these clinics, Kristen partnered with world famous Zen Master Genpo Roshi who in 1999 created Big Mind—a modern way to facilitate 30 years of Wisdom training and transcendental states of being to a student in mere hours.

With this partnership, Kristen has tied ancient wisdom into not only skiing, but adventure, all sports, business and our personal lives. Ski to Live has gained international attention for being the only clinic of its kind in the world - in any sport - and 90% of her clients say Ski To Live is one of the most significant experiences of their lives.


How is this event different from other sports clinics?

Every year millions of ski lessons occur around the world, and you can't swing a cheeseburger without hitting a "learn to ski better" clinic run by a former pro. Most of these gatherings are focused entirely on technical skills. Ditto in other sports.  

Ski To Live is not in the same category as these programs. Couldn't be more different in fact. Apples and Planets.

Ski To Live is not about the proper way to make a turn or how to hold your hands. This type of instruction has always struck us as seriously lacking in what really makes someone a good athlete. Sports are 90% mental, and perhaps 10% physical. While we do offer technical tips, we quickly move to the 90% part of our sports that are indeed mental (and really, the other 10% is mental too).

We then take a huge step beyond the mind to access other parts of your self that you may not even know exist. In doing so, we can help you discover what kind of athlete, and person, you were really meant to be. 

In short, if most clinics are strawberry or chocolate, we’re all the ice cream, nut and sauce factories in the world, combined. But don’t be intimidated; you make your own sundae.



"You know it's a special experience when you have an amazing time with complete strangers. A time that is both uproariously funny, profane, irreverent and also deeply insightful, thought-provoking and life altering in the best sense of the word. I will always be grateful to Ski To Live for that." —Scott deKuyper 

"I feel I have been exposed to elements within myself that I was unaware of; that there is more to me than I previously knew existed." —William Stahley

"When I first heard about (STL) I thought (Kristen was) a crazy cliff launcher who's trying to cash in on her fame by hosting some foo-foo Zen-ski clinic. That judgement was soooo wrong. Kristen, you invited me to do things differently, I started to open up, (another STLer wrote that she started blooming), to see different options than the same-old-thing. I realize that I am content with how I ski. As a ski instructor, this is a sin. A vicious circle had been broken. But, you, and what you do, have helped me reconnect with the mountains, spirituality, skiing, people, my job, myself and "it." My wheel is unstuck. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU." —Patrick Fagan

See more testimonials...


I'm religious; will I feel awkward at this event?

Imagine- a spiritual adventure where Agnostics, Taoists, Catholics, Buddhists, Muslims, Jewish, Mormons, Atheists etc, even staunch scientists gather together and not only have their minds blown open to the possibilities found in their own beliefs / non-beliefs, but no one winds up offended to boot.

That’s Ski To Live. On average, about a third of all participants who attend consider themselves religious. One or two people per clinic identify with Buddhism. The rest consider themselves to be spiritual but not religious (Kristen fits into this category). Usually one person or so seems to have signed up by accident and claim they don't have a spiritual bone in their body- and they have a great experience too. We do not steer you in any direction, what you learn and experience is entirely up to you based on your own path in life- and in that not one feels awkward.