Congratulations to SeniorsSkiing correspondent Jan Brunvand on schussing into his 90’s!

Alta’s Wild Old Bunch celebrates Jan’s 90th. Jan center. Photo by WOB member George Ramjoue.

Enjoy Jan’s top ten reasons he enjoys being a senior skier.  (Originally published December 2017)

#10. I have nothing to prove.

 I don’t need to ski bumps, steeps or crud. It’s challenging enough just skiing blues at age 84.

#9. Skiing impresses my non-skiing peers.

When folks ask “Are you still skiing,” they mean “still” as in “At your age?” not “still” as in “Is there still any snow up there?” I try to be a ski missionary and convince some old friends to return to skiing or to try it for the first time.

#8. Everything works better than when I was a kid.

Skis turn more easily, bindings release when they’re supposed to, and boots are actually comfortable. Ski clothes are lighter, warmer, and drier than in the good old days of wool and windbreakers.

#7. I have a built-in excuse for just about anything . . .

. . . like taking green runs, skiing half days, having extra coffee breaks, asking the liftie to slow it down, and forgetting where I parked.

#6. Skiing half days.

Did I mention this? I forget. Anyway, my wife and I ski what we call the “middle half”—start about 10:00 and quit about 3:00. We take at least five runs to count it as a ski day.

#5. Skiing with grandkids.

Until they’re about ten, the grandkids ski at about the same pace as us, and afterwards they’ll fetch us a coffee while we sit out a couple of their runs on the steeper stuff. If you ski with the kids you may be able to keep them from going to the dark side—SNOWBOARDING!

#4. Skiing midweek.

We avoid Saturdays, but sometimes ski Sundays, starting early, if that’s the only other time the grandkids are free. (If brought up properly, they can sometimes be convinced to skip school.) If you must ski weekends or holidays, split with your partner and use the singles line. You might meet someone interesting, hopefully not more interesting than your partner.

#3. Meeting other active seniors.

The 60+,70+, 80+ occasionally even 90+ jacket patches give your fellow oldsters away. Thin and graying hair under the helmets IDs them in the lodge. I always chat with peers asking where they learned to ski, and moving on to other important topics like how many grandkids do they have, are they fly fishers, and do they remember Studebakers. (I have a ’53 Commander, a good conversation starter with older people.)

#2. It’s a good kind of tired.

After a nice half day of skiing, by the time I get the boards off the car and myself out of my long underwear, I’m very sleepy and mellow, ready for a nap, a shower, and a drink before dinner. Ah, bliss!

And the #1 reason I enjoy being a senior skier. Senior discounts.

At my age in my area, season passes are free at Alta!


  1. Jack Thompson says:

    Enjoyed the get together yesterday at Alta’s Albion Lodge!

  2. Win Stebbins says:

    I fondly remember your parents Harold (Engineer, Mich State Highways), Ruth (great baker) and your two brothers Dick and Tor. Oh yes, the 60-foot high Lansing Ski Club your Dad helped my Dad Rolly start, with rope tows! Happy Birthday Jan and Judy, and many more ski runs with beautiful scenery! Continued great health! Win Stebbins, Lansing

  3. Loved the article, way to accurate. Especially #s 10,9, 5,3.

  4. Jan Brunvand says:

    Was the LSC only 60 ft. high? It seemed like a mini mountain to me when I was a teenager. Judy is a great baker too, although she no longer skis. She made the marzipan cake seen in the photo. It was snowing like mad at Alta yesterday, so only about half the WOB made it up.I managed two runs before the visibility hit zero. “If I can’t see it, I can’t ski it . . . ” etc. And it’s snowing again today. What a year!

    • George Covington says:

      I like your remark, “If I can’t see it, I can’t ski it.” I will keep that in mind. I was just skiing at Jackson Hole on a poor visibility day, hit a cat track that I didn’t see, and am now recovering from a compression fracture of a vertebra. I will be skiing next year, but with more common sense.

  5. Happy birthday Uncle Jan! Thanks to you and Aunt Judy for squiring me around the best ski resorts — that trip remains a favorite memory. What fun we had (and we even got a bonus Robert Redford spotting).

  6. Jan,

    Love the 10 reasons. At 81 I’m hopeful that two things are in my future: 1. 90 and beyond and 2.still using the boards. Congrats and keep on keeping on!

  7. Ginny Gelbach says:

    Way to go…keep those boards waxed and tuned. I’m 81 and still at it. Yes…the grands are too fast and adventurous for me now. But it was fun skiing with them when they were younger.Yes, early lunches are the way to go.

  8. Clyde Nunn says:

    Who would have thought skiing in our 80s would be soo much fun, years ago not me. I turned 85 in November and am fortunate to be having an amazing skiing experience this season, of course the abundant snow adds to it . I enjoy Jan’s articles very much. I ski, and have bee since 1954 at Sierra Ski Ranch/ sierraattahoeski. It’s a wonderful gift to be able to ski at any age

  9. Happy birthday! And what a delightful article–I loved reading your Reasons to Ski and happily agree with them all! Love the part about keeping the grandkids from turning to the dark side–we lost our younger son to the sport of snowboarding 🙁 Ah, well, we can still hit the mountain together.
    Happy trails!

  10. Susan and Robert McGinty says:

    We are new subscribers to Senior Skiing, and received this issue in our email. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Jan Brunvand’s name in the headlines, and I wondered if it was the same person as one of my favorite professors at the University of Idaho. After reading the articles I found that it was, indeed!
    Dr. Brunvand, you were fresh out of your doctoral program, teaching Folklore at U of I, and you demonstrated to us through your teaching your love of learning. I was an English major and had never studied folklore, but you opened my eyes to a new area of study. We all looked forward to coming to class to hear new stories, and we learned so much from you. I even recommended your class to my boyfriend (now husband), who was a business major, and he became a “fan.”
    We both went on and got our Ph.D.’s, taught in our disciplines for over 40 years (the last 27+ at Eastern Washington University), always looked for positions near skiing. We are still hitting the slopes in retirement.
    Congratulations and Happy Birthday! We intend to follow your example:)

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