I am one of those skiers who is always trying to improve my technique (for me, increasing my technical proficiency decreases my fear factor
: ). Usually I do this by skiing with people who are more skilled than I am, because that makes me push my envelope and step a bit outside my "comfort zone." Thankfully I have this opportunity often, because I know a lot of excellent skiers. When a friend tells me that I looked great skiing a particular line, it makes me feel good. But it feels even better to get that "feeling of skiing it right on." It's exhilarating and a natural high!
This also means I learn by watching others. A lot of people learn by watching others, so I expect that there are people watching me when I ski under a lift. However, it doesn't bother me to be watched, whether I am skiing beautifully or hacking it up. To me, I am simply challenging myself and learning as I go. If others learn something by watching me, whether it's "oh no, don't sit too far back on ice" or "remember to plant your poles, especially when it's steep," then good for them!
That said, it's pretty darn nice to hear someone say, "Hey, that's a girl that just ripped that line!" And it's even nicer when they see that I am older than they expected (I am 40).
I took several clinics about 10 years ago with the XTeam (John & Dan Egan, Rob & Eric DesLauriers) because I wanted to step up my game. Two winters ago, I was skiing at Sugarbush and took some runs with John Egan. There was no nicer compliment than when he said, "I can't believe it! You really rock now!"
Needless to say, I've put on a lot of mileage since those clinics and have pushed myself to ski terrain that I never would have skied before (steeps, tight woods, etc.). I truly believe I earned that compliment and I know he really meant it. How can that not have an impact on how I feel about my skiing?
So, I guess you could say I ski partly to impress. But mostly, I ski to get that grin on my face that tells me I'm dancing with the mountain, and doing all the steps just right.