Skiing over 50 – Is it for you?

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Skiing over 50 – Is it for you?
Sunday River, Maine

I often meet former skiers over 50 who haven’t skied for years or even decades. Some gave up the sport because of the time constraints of employment or raising a family.

Skiing is a time-consuming activity; however, if you reached a point in your life where more time and resources are available to you, consider reentering this exciting yet relaxing sport. Even if you haven’t skied before, it’s not too late to start. Skis and boots today are more user-friendly in terms of control and comfortability than their predecessors.

Yes, skiing requires much more planning, preparation, and resources than most other sports, particularly for Long Islanders who are probably at least three hours from the nearest ski resort. Still, a good day on the slopes is very satisfying. Let’s discuss some of the apprehensions you may have.

Is it too costly? Skiing unfortunately is not cheap in respect to lift tickets, equipment, clothing, and travel. But before investing in new equipment or pulling out your old boards from the 70s and 80s, explore seasonal rentals from local ski shops.

Their rental rates are likely much less than at the resorts, and a fraction of the price of new skis, boots and poles.

Proper clothing is essential, especially ski pants, an insulated windproof jacket, and warm gloves or mittens. If you don’t have these, check out EBay, garage sales, and early or late season ski sales for them.

The rest can come right out of your closet, e.g. sweaters, sweatpants and anything warm and comfortable. Avoid cotton and jeans if possible. And ….. we wear helmets now! Lift tickets pre-purchased online are generally lower than the ticket window prices and many resorts offer senior discounts. Weekday skiing, if an option for you, is the best value for your money in the way of reduced lift ticket prices and smaller crowds. Carpooling lowers your travel costs and makes the trip seem shorter.

Am I in proper shape? Although skiing is not as cardiovascular as many other sports, it still entails an intense use of muscles. Proper preparation by walking, doing squats, and step-climbing will ease your reentry into skiing.

This becomes even more important as we age and our bodies lose strength. The following link by the University of Utah provides some basic exercises to prepare for the season: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3CGiTKHck0.

When you first arrive on the slopes, allow yourself a break-in period by starting with easier and moderate runs. Don’t ski until you’re tired, but take frequent breaks before you get tired. Relax – there is no rush or urgency – you have the whole day! Don’t resist sitting out a few runs if you need a break sooner than your companions. And stay hydrated.

How can I connect with other skiers? Finding skiing companions takes effort when your friends, associates, and family don’t share your interest. While solo skiing has some advantages in terms of flexibility, you should not feel compelled to ski alone.

Several ski clubs and meetup groups exist in the New York metropolitan area. For example, visit www.meetup.com to find fellow skiers for day trips. The 50 Plus Ski Club (www.50plusski.org) sponsors day and multi-day trips with carpooling for skiers over 50. Skiing with companions is more enjoyable, safer and economical.

How can I maximize my enjoyment? Even with discounts or other savings devices, your ski outing will still be a fair investment of time and money. As such, you should make the most of the day.

For the travel segment, avoid peak traffic periods by leaving very early and staying late. Yes, this means setting your alarm clock early and leaving in the dark. Stop for a good breakfast along the way and enjoy a dinner break on the way home. This strategy also lets you avoid the higher-priced meals sold by the resorts. (Bring some snacks.)

The slopes are usually less crowed during the earlier and later hours, and during lunch. Finally, share the driving, particularly on the return trip.

What about midweek skiing? The advantage of midweek skiing cannot be underemphasized. If you are retired or have reached a point in your employment when you can take an occasional personal or vacation day, you will find midweek skiing to be a peaceful and stimulating experience. Gone are the long lift lines and crowds.

Casually skiing down a mountain without dodging ski traffic, or looking out for Shaun White and Lindsay Vonn wannabes allows for more focus on your stance, style, and overall control. Cocoa and meal breaks are relaxed and unrushed, and the walk to and from your car will likely be shorter.

What are other things to consider? Boots-Boots-Boots. Boots are as important as the ski itself. A bad boot fit can make any ski day miserable. Boots should be snug, but not so tight as to cause pain and limit circulation. Don’t leave the fitting area until you are comfortable with the boot. Be patient and try other boots until you have one that is comfortable.

Getting back into skiing at over 50 may appear challenging, but with the proper planning and preparation, you will rediscover the enjoyment. See you on the mountain.

Chris Ruona
Member – 50 Plus Ski Club

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