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At What Age Does Skier Ability Decline?

post #1 of 79
Thread Starter 
As a relative latecomer to the sport, starting at age 33 (12 years ago), I was wondering at what age (if any) does skier ability start to decline. I'm not talking about big air or doing moguls all day. I'm talking about skiing in the routinely encountered conditions on-piste and off. Let's also assume they are a disciple of LM and they stay at a reasonably good fitness level. How does this change the equation.

Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional!
post #2 of 79
I'm turning 54 and have been skiing for 18 years. At my age, my skills and abilities are still improving. I feel that I'm skiing better now than I ever have! I'm definitely having more fun.

The downside to age is your recovery period. It takes me a few more days to recover
after 3 or more days of intensive skiing. I need a fair amount of rest! Than I'm good to go

When I was in my 30's I could ski hard all weekend, be tired on Monday, and fully recovered by Tuesday. Those days are gone.

For me the best way to stay in shape for ski season is to spend at least 1 hour, 3 days per week on my road bike. I go easy April and May and SLOWLY build up the miles/ time and intensity. Than by June/July you can start to pound out the miles and begin to work at improving your anaerobic threshold.

Like they say "use it or loose it".
post #3 of 79
My father in law has skied all his life, starting as a kid in Austria. He's in his seventies, and had a hard life in construction, but is still the sweetest vision on skiis I have ever seen. He can't get out as much any more, but on piste he is the MAN. SCSA would love his technique, boots together, big swoopy turns and s-m-o-o-t-h.

The mother in law learned when she was 46 or so. She's also in her early seventies, and is still improving. Guess having a great grandchild starting out does that to you!

Anyway, short answer is, as long as the physical capability is there, you can keep improving for a long time. Decline only happens when you let it.
post #4 of 79
early twenties.
post #5 of 79
I'm 49 plus a few years. I keep telling the ski techs I'm 49 so they don't set my binding's din at 5.5. At That setting one turn and I pop out. Anyway to your question. As I grow older I work more on my technique,and rely less on athletic ablity.(ski smarter not harded)I'm still skiing most of the Mountain.I also can ski from 1st chair to closing.
Staying fit and useing better honed skills and strategy.Helps keep me going. I have skied with some vary good skiers that are in thier early 70's.Some stick to groomed runs now, but there are a few that still venture into the off piste and yes do mogul runs.
post #6 of 79
Utah49, you can't be older than 49! your handle doesn't lie!

heh heh heh
post #7 of 79
I'm 38, have been skiing about 30 years, and this past year I felt as if I was going faster and stronger than ever. But on mondays when I walk up the steps at work my knees sound like maracas.

They sound like that everyday now actually.

cha cha cha
post #8 of 79
At 50, and skiing for about 8 years, I have never done/ felt better about my skiing.

What should old farts do about our knees. They feel weak, but haven't given out yet. On the slopes, they are quiet, but the day after they can do some talking.

I understand it is lack of muscle that leads to abuse of the joints and Ligaments. Cycling feels right.. Harry o might be right.

LM have you anything to say?

post #9 of 79
You can carry on routine skiing until you have a weak link in your body, such as a bad back or knee.

Father, 73, diehard skier's skier, (this man loves skiing so much I lack the words), reluctantly stopped skiing this year due to knee.

Mother, 69, avid skier and outdoorswoman, still skis.
post #10 of 79
I'm just turning 55 and at the end of my 46th year of skiing. I believe the point at which ability starts to drop off is totally dependent on the individual - fitness as well as injury and basic wear and tear of the years.

Up to a few years ago I use to bang the bumps as well as chase powder all over the intermountain area (Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and BC). Now I limit my chasing to the powder (my first love anyway). The bumps put a lot of strain on my knees (they've sounded like astrochimp since I was about his age) and I want to get another 40+ years out of these knees.

Although I can still ski first chair to last chair and do it for up to a week at a time (the limit of my "test time" these days) I often get bored if there isn't some fluff avaiable to chase and go do something else (ride the bike or push some weights). I can see where I might soon be more selective of the days I ski simply because of boring conditions.

[ May 01, 2002, 12:49 PM: Message edited by: PowderJunkie ]
post #11 of 79
Talk about starting late in life, I waited to my mid 40s! Endurance wise, I can ski pain free all day long. But the learning curb is pretty slow, considering that none of the sport or fitness activities I WAS involved with were in any way similar to skiing.
post #12 of 79
Well, there's your problem, LM. It's supposed to be a learning CURVE!!!
post #13 of 79
Ha!! That blooper is so funny I'm leaving it unedited!

Madam Malaprop
post #14 of 79
one can continue growing as a skier until one dies or stops.

daring moves start tapering off in the late 20s or early 30s, with some exceptions (the old guard of extreme skiers, such as the DesLauriers brothers, Plake, Schmidt, Cummings, et al.) because as one gets older and more experienced, it becomes harder to block out the nagging "what if?" voice in the back of one's mind.

Stein Erickson and our good man Ott Gangl prove to us that one can continue growing as a skier at ages when most other sports require the participant to hang up the equipment.
post #15 of 79
Die young, as late in life as possible!

Squeeze the very marrow out of life,
so that when I die, I might Know that I have lived!

Bring a snorkel in case its deep.

post #16 of 79
Well if Gonzo is right about my handle can't lie Then from Now On I will be Known as Utah 29
post #17 of 79
I heard that Alf Engen skied up to about 80 or so, then was taken out by an out-of-control skier, after which he was a little shaky so ski school used to hide his skis. I rode the chair with an 89 year old dude at Alta this year. That's my plan.

[ May 01, 2002, 02:24 PM: Message edited by: Rubob ]
post #18 of 79
A friend who turned 91 this year continues to appreciate suggestions for making better use of his modern equipment. He skis about four hours daily three to five days a week, depending upon weather conditions.
post #19 of 79
I was lucky to have a lesson from a Polish gentleman at Alta this year. I believe he was in his early to mid sixties. He could ski better than 99% of the twenty somethings out there. The bumps on High Rustler were nothing to him and he did them on a pair of 188 Axis X even though he could not have been over 160 pounds. Unbelievable skier.

As for me, when I was in my late teens I'd ski from 9AM to 10PM everyday. The record was two months straight without a break. I mostly stayed in the bumps and don't recall ever being exhausted. I was too young and dumb to know better. Now that I'm near 37 and don't get to ski often, I believe I am a better technical skier than I was in my late teens and early twenties. Skiing is like riding a bike and the new equipment helps as well. I do, however, find myself, especially my legs, getting tired rather quickly. The altitude adjustment the first couple of days out West contributes as well. I do try to pace my day around the mountain by hitting some nice groomers in the morning for warm-ups (man I'm gettin' old) and moving to the bumps and off-piste right before and after lunch then finishing up on the groomers. My legs just can't go like they used to all day in the bumps and my mind tells me it's time to get on-piste before I do some damage. That's another thing that goes, the confidence level. I'll blame that on not getting enough days on the snow or in the steeps. If I could ski as often as my instructor at Alta, I may be able to ski like him in my sixties. Well, then again, maybe not.
post #20 of 79
Just turned 50. I've been skiing since I was 16. I now ski with the wife and a few friends and have given up the knee-jarring/teeth breaking runs of yesteryear. I can still hold my own though I have to take a few more IBProfuran because my old football knees act up more now than when I was 20 or 30 or 40 but that is life. Better living through chemistry!!!

post #21 of 79
I think that a point running through the responses of those in their 30s and older is the unspoken need for FITNESS. Didja hear that, LM?

About 5 years ago, I started noticing rapid fitness declines during periods of inactivity. I resolved to remedy that with more activity. This season, I not only skied stronger than ever, but I didn't use my two ACL braces. I had no aching knees, neither while skiing nor the day after. I attribute this to my fairly strenuous cycling regimen during the off-season, as well as trying to ride as much as possible during ski season. Weight training helps too.

It's funny, but at 41 I am in the best cardio and muscular fitness of my life. I'm not as "cut" or "buff" as I was in college playing lacrosse, and I can no longer bench press 265 lbs (maybe I could do 100 lbs or so!), and I've got some flab around the waist (about an extra 1-2" worth), but my resting heart rate is as low as it's ever been, my muscular and respiratory stamina is the highest it's ever been, and I feel great.

There is hope!
post #22 of 79
You'll always improve your technique as long as you ski, the only way you'll decline is by stop doing the sport, as you become older you may find that what you can do is limited like what you said, bumps and park. Just have fun out there!!
post #23 of 79
CalG - to stop your knees from 'talking' the day after skiing, suggest you supplement Glucsomine. Keeps the joints lubricated, and there are claims it helps repair cartlidge.

So with the benefits of modern science and a good fitness regime I intend skiing way into my golden years. Now I just have to find myself a replacement male companion willing to do the same....
post #24 of 79
I started skiing at age 58. Am now 65 and skiing better each year and handling more challenging conditions. Just back from two months in Whistler during which we did day after day of bumps and also some of the chutes and couloirs.

As a number of people have pointed out, off-season conditioning is critical. I come from a runing and cycling background and try to maintain a reasonable standard of fitmess all year round. I stopped running marathons to save my knees however, and now rollerblade instead. Am constantly amazed at the lack of stretching I see either pre or post skiing. I find it very useful to keep aging muscles supple.

Love some of the example of older skiers noted here. Stories like this should be an inspiration to us all.
post #25 of 79
Well, kids, lemme tell you something. As you know I'm 70 now and my lovely wife Ann is 69, though I've been skiing since I was a kid myself, Ann didn't start until the ripe old age of 23.

My secret is that I keep refining my technique and smoothness in skiing, almost automatically, I just ski with whatever takes less effort, no superflous movements. In skiing very smooth you fight nothing on the mountain, rather you look at what conditions and terrain can do for you.

Steep stuff is easier to ski because gravity helps you, ice is solid underfoot and won't give, so the edges hold well, crud and slush allow you to take a straighter line downhill, etc.

Just the last couple of years I felt my strength waning, so I try to stay waway from situations where I have to manhandle my skis, bumps, deep powder and trees, mainly.

The biggest reason many older people give up skiing or just make a few trips a year, and I have former instructor friends who ski rarely, is that for old people it is getting too much of a hassle.

Even if you live within an hours drive of your home mountain, getting dressed in all that regalia, lloading the equipment, driving and finding a praking place close enough so the carrying of the equipment doesn't exhaust you, putting on the boots, and last but not least, standing in a long lift line. And then the reverse of all that at the end of the day.

I never thought I would feel that way, but I'm fighting it, successfully so far, but foregoing a luncheon with friends or a card game or playing with my grandson who is two-and-a-half and will be introduced to skiing by us next season, is hard.

I'm hoping that my grandson's introduction of skiing will give us renewed reasons to keep on, but after 56 years of skiing I can't think of a reason why I should make even one more turn. Well one, I like it a lot.

post #26 of 79
I saw Peter Lunn skiing in his late 80's, during the winter, & he was very good.However, his wife told me he tried to ski every day, summer & winter!

Although my technique has improved,age has lead to a decline my skiing. Your early twenties are your peek. It's all downhill from then on. But heh I'm still raging against the machine, & intend to fight for every last pleasure.
post #27 of 79
Things begin to lessen the minute one grows up.
I still wonder what I`m going to do when I grow up? I`m in my seventh decade with a brand new knee. (two weeks) :
post #28 of 79
Julie from nz

I will look for the suppliment

My wife doesn't ski.

post #29 of 79
Chronological age will hold you back only if you believe that you must decline in performance proportionally with age.

Yes, there are those that will thump their 3 ring binders and quote studies, but the mind is very powerful and will enable you to accomplish feats others do not dare dream of.

I "suffer" from this theory I like to refer to as "The Peter Pan syndrome".

Foregoing volumes of "I did this" and "I did that" scenarios, I wish to say that in your own mind and heart you can envision yourself engrossed in the perfect run on the perfect day whereever and whenever and the grin on your face will attest to the feeling in the soul. Forget that you just caught an edge, terrorized a wannbe that stumbled onto the wrong run, and wiped out on an ice patch at the lift line. (Why is everyone looking away when you meekly squeek "single" ?)

If you cannot live in Never Never Land, there is always:

Buy a Skiers Edge Machine and religiously utilize its power to build and maintain your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and abdominal groups.

Take up yoga and slot out an hour in the morning. You won't believe what this will do for your balance and control on the slopes.

Adhere to a weight program that is interesting enough to keep you coming back for more. (10 max sets).

Cross train with tennis. The muscle memory built is very similar to turns on the slopes.

Bike, bike, bike.....

And then you can sit at home, rehab after a feak fall that you always imagined could happen on the hill, and pop funny blue/green pills that expand your mind and induce you to respond to posts on ski net sites.............

(Now I know what Grace Slick was refering to in "White Rabbit") hahahhohohhehehehehe
post #30 of 79
I am one of the aging skiers on this forum who didn't start until I was 30. As Gonz and some others stated, year-round fitness and flexibility are key issues if you want to continue skiing and enjoy it.
I believe you have to think young and not dwell on how many trips around the sun you have made.

I still ski the same terrain I always have, but am a little more cautious about falling because it takes longer for me to heal.
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