Lots of great advice in this thread; but the above statement sums up what worked for me this season. All I would add is have the skis you pick tuned even if new.
I'm not 66, but 49 is plenty old to start racing plus I have a torn ACL. I'm a huge Volkl fan and beside Goats and Racetiger SL's I have a pair of WC GS Racetigers in size183 R>23 with piston plates. They are a blast for free skiing but in races I had trouble keeping hooked up at the couple of gates set way out there. Ended up with Rossi Radical Masters (cheaters) which took some adjusting on my part. They also were in terrible tune from the factory but nothing a good local tune couldn't correct. Initially I was faster on the SL's but now am consistently faster on the Rossi's.
Thought I was a pretty good skier but chasing gates was very humbling. I started out way at the back of the NASTAR pack but ended up middle of the pack now. In between I attended a couple clinics, got a little coaching, and ran a LOT of gates on the Rossi's. Between daily NASTAR, beer league, and a couple 'full size' GS races, I logged over 120 timed runs this season plus who knows how many practice runs. Though a mid season injury (not from racing, was from being stupid) did slow me down longer, maybe I am just a really slow learner. It took almost the entire season for me to start putting it all together. Anyway, there is light at the end of the tunnel if you make enough laps.