i absolutely love skiing, hockey, and speed skating, having participated in all three of these in my life.
skiing gets in your blood. the need for downhill speed, and the occasional stop mid-trail to hook up with friends, and you suddenly notice that you're in heaven. the sun peeking thru snow covered trees, only the distant din of the lifts in the frozen air, your heart pounding in your ears. it's great. then it's back to all out abandon, flying down the hill at breakneck speed.
and they sell food and drinks at the top and bottom.
i remember skiing in breckenridge colorado. btw, it's fun to stay at 10,000 feet with heavy smokers. they never know when to stop exhaling, and then they almost pass out.
anyway, i bring my video camera everywhere i go, so i brought it to the top, hiking a few feet above the highest lift to the ridge to get some good shots. then i hold the camera in one hand, poles in the other and let it rip, stopping occasionally to get pan the camera on good views.
when we got home, i connected the camera to the tv, saw some really beautiful visages of the rockies, but all you could hear was wind, and heavy breathing. a buddy asked what kind of weirdo i was skiing with...
as far as hockey goes, that becomes part of you. the mentality to take and give good clean checks, play hard, give it your all every shift on the ice. and when someone does somethinmg dirty to you, you don't retalliate. you take their number and wait for them to cross your path again with their head down. these things translate in life, too.
speed skating is more of a spiritual thing. your body does the mechanics, flying just a few feet above the ice, (or ground with inline skates), and your mind is free to wander, to fly as your body does as you slice along.