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Too old to start racing?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

I'm 16 and started skiing last year, and have counted about 50 days, at about 4-6 hours per day with weekends about 8 hours. Is 16 too old? My main mountain's ski team goes up to 18 years old, but I just started skiing. Skills wise, I can carve clean tracks in blacks and blues and stay completely parallel. Occasional double blacks too. I'm not too sure where I stand level wise and if racing is even feasible.

post #2 of 26

Never too old to challenge yourself with the timing clock!

post #3 of 26

Having fun is the most important part. If you love skiing, why not give it a try?


Do you have friends on the ski team already? If so, that makes the decision 10x easier.


I can recall on my ski team we had people in the same situation. More than 1 actually, 2 or 3 out of the 12 or 14. We never excluded them. Sure they weren't the fastest, but it was hella' fun to see them improve. Sometimes it can be difficult for the coaches but in the long run it can help motivate the already present athletes to improve.


Do it! Do it!   If you do have friends, try to let them give you some their setup or older stuff for a day of free skiing on piste.

post #4 of 26
Never too old. Good luck.
post #5 of 26

   16 is not old. I Coach a HS Team and in our conference every year there are new racers that are your age, also I run the adult league and Nastar program so even after HS there are plenty of race options for you. The main thing is to ski as much as you can in all conditions, also run as many gates as you can, then run a few more. A good work ethic in the course will take you along way, when the "fast kids" quit run some more. Be the guy thats hard to knock off his feet in a course and you will find a spot on the Team.

post #6 of 26
Thread Starter 

Thanks. My instructor says that I am an advanced skier. I spoke with the race director and I could absolutely join, and I would be in the U19 group. Do you think that I would be pretty much the slowest always?

post #7 of 26

You may be the slowest for awhile but you will probably have more fun than you imagined. As you get faster it will get even more fun.





post #8 of 26
Thread Starter 

Is racing like pretty much any other sport, especially ball sports, where the newer (suckier :) ) people are really frowned upon? "Uggg, _____ is up. He sucks!!!!!!"?

post #9 of 26
Nope, I find the opposite (it's a very social sport) and you being sucky has no direct impact on how the better racers race.

As for progression, chances are you wont be running down the very seasoned lifetime racers, however given it's an individual sport that shouldn't matter. It's you the course and the clock. Individual improvement should be the goal and if you are athletic and very comfortable on skis you might surprise yourself as to how quickly you can progress.

The learning curve is steep (running gates is a totally different animal than free skiing) but hard work and being open to feedback does pay off in spades.
post #10 of 26

Never too old to start. I was 50-51 when I started in our local beer league and my wife started racing in our Tuesday morning league at 62. You may be DLF or close to it at first, but if you're competitive at all, you'll do the work needed to get better. It's been said many times, but racing will make you a better skier.

post #11 of 26

Coasterblu, JohnnyV is absolutely correct. Don't EVER waste any energy worrying about whether you're too old to try ANYTHING.   Next year you'll be 17, and wishing you had started at 16.   Ski racing does not end in high school or college; what you're starting is a life-long undertaking if you want it to be. I started running gates at 50. Wish I had started at 16 - but real glad I didn't wait until now.


Give it a shot. If you make the team you're a hero. If you don't then keep trying. But please do not defeat yourself before you try.

post #12 of 26
Thread Starter 
This team anyone can join as long as they are intermediate-advanced.
Originally Posted by JohnnyV View Post

You may be DLF or close to it at first, but if you're competitive at all,

What does DLF mean?
post #13 of 26

Dead F'ing Last! Always a goal to avoid!

post #14 of 26
Thread Starter 
Think it would be that bad for me wink.gif? I can do clean carves dragging my hand on the snow with good form. Nice and tight turns maintaining constant speed.
post #15 of 26
You won't know till you get in the gates.
I've seen plenty of fantastic free skiers that look like they didn't know how to ski when put in the gates.

Icy course + big sticks in the way + being forced to follow a certain path (not just turn when you are ready) makes for an interesting time.

That being said, good skiers can pick it up pretty quickly.
post #16 of 26

I skied freestyle and joined the resort freestyle team at 15.  Skied NASTAR a couple time but wasn't able to earn gold until age 17... and after becoming an instructor with some race clinic training.  I didn't start learning to race until age 17, and a friend of mine that started at the same time as me went on to do well on the U of Minnesota college team, hitting top ten in the state before he graduated.  So, now is actually a GOOD time to get started..

post #17 of 26
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone for the advice. I will be joining for next year, going in to the full program. Never skied gates before, what should I know? Should I go all in, buying all gear and equipment before next season?

post #18 of 26

Don't buy any gear before talking with the coach to see what the rules allow and don't.  Different organizations have different rules for race skis.

post #19 of 26

Keep an open mind and get as much help from coaches/teammates as you can.  It's not rocket science but there is a lot to learn.  Watching videos or reading will only take you so far, it's something you really need to experience (knowledge vs. understanding).


Don't have to go all in with gear.  Race skis are a must (near impossible to run SL without proper skis) and I'd surely invest in pole guards and shinners for SL.  Chances are you will be so far from the gate you won't need shinners for the first while, but I can also say not having them will all but make sure you never get the right angulation to actually use them (e.g. gates hurt and your body won't let you put yourself in the right positions because the pain of a gate on your shins/knee will impede it) 


I'm assuming you'll also run GS which in that case you'll need a helmet with hard ears.


No need for forearm guards to start, if you are getting gate hits there you can spend a few bucks for a pair of youth/jr soccer shin pads that should work great.

post #20 of 26
Thread Starter 

Alright, thanks. Keep an open mind to what, exactly? :rolleyes

post #21 of 26

Lets just say no matter how good you think you are, the first few sessions through the gates (especially SL) are very humbling.....

Depending on your technique, I always say racing gates exposes almost all your flaws, flaws you might not have know you even had (that were masked in free skiing by either snow conditions or the fact you got to direct when and how your were turning.....in the course the set dictates this for you whether you like it or not).  Again I have yet to see anybody (no matter how good they are) go through the gates for the first time and not look terrible.


Keep an open mind to that experience and best check your ego at the door as well.  You'll have a much better time/experience if you do.

post #22 of 26

I would also either get a helmet equipped with a face guard or a mouth guard for SL.  I can't tell you how many times I've wacked my helmet with a missed cross block and wacked my face guard.  We had a guy last year crack a tooth even with a face guard.  SL can be a violent sport.


Also, I got a padded shirt starting when I was running Nastar.  I can't tell you how many little blue bruises you get over your shoulders and upper arms from wacky GS gates even with a suit.  This year, I even got pad shorts because my hips were getting bruised up - but that could be old guy stuff, we don't heal or bounce as well as the young guys.

post #23 of 26

From my experience, one can not be "too old" to compete in any sport.  Age can come into play depending on your objectives.  For ski racing, I've seen plenty of ski racers start in their teens.  One thing to consider is that high commitment to a sport makes a huge difference and can lead to relatively rapid progression.  It really depends on you.


I "grew up" on skis and had childhood friends whose parents put them in junior racing programs as soon as they could.  Unfortunately, my family just didn't have the resources or desire to support me as a junior racer - so I didn't get that shot (but I did get a lot of opportunities to ski gates with my buddies).  Some of my buddies burned out on racing by the time they hit their late teens. 


I think one thing that can be tough for very young junior racers is that their bodies are constantly changing as they grow - thus their body mechanics can seem like a moving target.  They can often feel like they're having to relearn skills season after season and can lead to tension/frustration.  Sometimes, a sub-teen junior athlete seemingly loses whatever edge they had in their sport as they grow - and never gets it back.  You probably don't have to worry about that.  ;^)


I'm sure there's a number of talented racers that didn't really get committed to the sport until their mid-to-late teens.  And I'm sure a lot of them came out of high school & junior programs.  They dove into the sport, loved it, gave it 110+% and excelled.  You can too.  Go for it!

post #24 of 26
Thread Starter 

I'm going to go for it. Thanks everyone, I really appreciate the help. Anything else I should know?

post #25 of 26
Originally Posted by coasterblu View Post

I'm going to go for it. Thanks everyone, I really appreciate the help. Anything else I should know?

You better!


I walked away from skiing in my teens.  Came back to it in my 30's, started racing at 35 and am having a blast.  I know guys that started in their 50's, just go for it.

post #26 of 26

If there is one thing that racing will do for you, is that it will make you a better all round skier! I started racing when I was 16 as well and found it intimidating at first, especially when I was racing J1's in USSA in Maine. I found myself racing against kids that had been trained from a young age and had lots of resources (gear, skis) but some of those kids were burnt out because they were pushed hard from a young age. The fact that you are inspired to get out there and chase gates (race) means you should do it regardless of what hurdles you may come across because it will make you a better skier and a stronger person!  

I'm in my early 40's now and my skiing is still based off of what I learned from participating in ski practice and races.  I had moments of frustration and being intimidated by the others that had been doing it longer but I kept my head up and followed my passion and dream of racing.  I had a few top 5 finishes and lots of DNFs (Did Not Finish) but all in all it made me a really solid skier and it shows more now in my skiing than ever.  

So go for it and have fun doing it and learn all you can while in practice and at races.  It's a blast no matter how late you start.  I went on to be a collegiate ski racer and water skier.  That turned into a career of being a race coach and ski instructor at the big resorts out West (Crested Butte, Vail, Arapahoe Basin, Copper, Keystone).  Even though I don't chase gates anymore it looks like I do and only other skiers who raced or grew up skiing can keep up.  

So go fast and take chances!

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