No Room For Error: Mindset, Injury & the Human Side of the World’s Toughest Downhill Ski Race

Subscribe in iTunes

There is no such thing as a small injury.

[Tweet “”There is no such thing as a small injury.””]

Welcome to the inaugural episode of Remarkably Human Radio!

I’m excited for this episode not only because it’s the first in a whole line of great interviews I’ve recently recorded, but because it’s with someone that is truly inspiring.   I first met Eric Heil while I was touring in Alaska, and from the get-go it was obvious that he was thoughtful, considered and humble.  So humble, in fact, that even after becoming fast friends, I had no idea that he was a 5-time champion of one of the world’s toughest downhill ski races, the Arctic Man Competition.

Arctic Man is a crazy race that combines intense downhill racing speeds, two summits, and a high-speed hitch behind a snow machine in the middle.  Not only do competitors hit speeds equal to and beyond those found in Olympic competition, they also endure the “wood chipper” and slingshot over the second summit, all in a remote location in the middle of the Hoodoo Mountains of Alaska.  They must survive as well as compete, and it’s not for the faint of heart!

I was drawn and quartered by gravity and physics.

[Tweet “”I was drawn and quartered by gravity and physics.””]

It was an honor to have Eric on the show to talk about his 25 years of Arctic Man competition.  We talk about the race itself, as well as his wins, losses and just what it takes – both mentally and physically – to push the limits of ability such as he does.  (and I’m grateful for his willingness to chat in the pre-dawn hours – the only time that would fit his busy schedule).

UPDATE: Click Here for Eric's Race Results

As promised in the interview, here are Eric Heil’s 2014 Arctic Man Race Results.

Eric landed a solid 4th place in this year’s competition, and though he didn’t snag 1st place, he still had an exceptional performance.

So exceptional, in fact, that he clocked the highest speed on radar of the entire race, and finished in an impressive 4 minutes and 1.24 seconds.

To put that time in perspective, it is, by my calculations, the fastest 4th place finish in the history of the competition, would have qualified him for a 1st place finish in every race in the history of the competition save for 2013, and completely shattered his own course record (which was for some time the overall course record).

I’d certainly say that his preparations paid off.  It was the fastest race of his life!

Congratulations to Eric on such a remarkable performance!

I don’t yet know what his intentions are for 2015, but I sure hope that he’ll be chasing that 4 minute barrier.



  • What Alaska’s Arctic Man Competition is, how it started as a bar bet, and why it’s considered one of world’s toughest downhill ski races.
  • The curious aspect that makes this race different from all others.
  • Setting the speed record on the course, including hitting 95 mph on training runs.
  • How the competition has changed over Eric’s 25 years of involvement.
  • Breaking the 4-minute barrier on a 5+ mile course and shooting for the 3:52 record.
  • The challenges of competing in such a remote location, including food, fuel, lodging and support.
  • How Eric’s reasons for racing have changed over the course of 25 years.
  • How Eric rehearses and trains for competition.
  • Course memorization and the necessity of knowing every inch of the race.
  • The role that mental visualization plays in preparing for an event like Arctic Man.
  • What happens when serious injury happens (and Eric has had some devastating ones!)
  • How injury one year can set you up for success the next.


 All my victories follow very poor performances.

[Tweet “”All my victories follow very poor performances.””]

I also share Eric’s results from this year’s Arctic Man competition, which he was just preparing for when we originally spoke. After our conversation, I discuss the results of some compelling research that indicate what types of mental rehearsal and visualization work, which ones don’t, and why.

We need to accept what happens to us, but we don’t need to accept it lying down.

[Tweet “”We need to accept what happens to us, but we don’t need to accept it lying down.””]


This is it!  The very first episode of Remarkably Human Radio!  If you liked this episode and want to see where this program is headed, the best way to help out is to subscribe via iTunes and leave a review.

I’ve been busy, hard at work on producing some incredible content for you, and I have to say, I’ve been able to chat with some incredible people.  I’ll be releasing the episodes on a weekly basis, so stay tuned!  There’s some cool stuff coming up.  Already I’ve chatted with:

  • An extreme pain control expert about the really wild demonstrations that he puts on stage, and the neuroscience and psychology of how he accomplishes his amazing feats….
  • A cryonics researcher, about redefining the limits of death…
  • The Boston Chief of Police, about the incredible lessons he learned from the Boston Marathon bombing on 2013…
  • Plus I have several more episodes already in the can, which will be revealed soon!

So please do subscribe, and if you’re really interested, join the mailing list to keep up with all the latest news!

Thanks again, and I’ll see you next week!


  • Eric Heil

    Hi Roderick! Your email compelled me to come check this out. I had actually forgotten we recorded this conversation. I am really pleased with your presentation. Through several phone interviews I have experienced wildly taken liberties that lose context and falsely tell the story. So, a credit to the live record, your interest, and your lead!
    It is my privilege to share your friendship:) Always, Eric

    • Roderick Russell

      Thanks Eric! I aim to always be faithful to the conversations in the final version of the show, and I’m glad that came through for you in this episode. Thanks for being part of the series and kicking it off so well!

Leave a Reply