#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.

A guy with the right attitude that I met at Deer Valley a couple of years ago. He told me he wanted to add to the message on his helmet, “ . . . but not today.” Credit: Jan Brunvand

#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, $49 at Snowbasin, $20 at Powder Mountain, with other discounts and deals elsewhere. Check out the Senior discounts where you live.

21 Comments

  1. Jan
    I thoroughly enjoyed your article. Thank you for sharing it.
    Don

  2. Congratulations Jan. I’m 78 and plan to be skiing at 84. To add one more to your list. The upcoming ski trips always give me great things to look forward to.

  3. Avatar Gary Stauffer says:

    Great article Jan. My wife and I love the free skiing here in northern Michigan! Love fresh groomed snow on a green run!

  4. Right On Bro! [New Fangled Talk.]
    I had my 81st a week ago and am headed for Alta tomorrow. Hopefully my unfinished recovery from having my Lumbar region replaced with an incredible amount of titanium will not prevent me from having an Irish Coffee outside at Wildcat Base. If I can ski, I will. If I can’t I will at least be with people who can and love me.
    And I can’t wait for dinner where the banter with both old and new friends will NOT include amazement that I still ski [love your description.]
    And of course the first free drink in the bar for making it in from the door and getting another year older.
    I could go on and on with no children groaning and sighing and rolling their eyes at my “Old Guy” talk.
    Illigitimi Non-Carborundum…

  5. Really enjoyed your article and 10 points…at 82 I can certainly relate to all of them. We are fortunate to have a local Ski Slope with 50 miles of Cincinnati and a large group of Senior Regulars. Senior Skiing brings a new meaning to “It’s all downhill from here.” smile

  6. I thought bragging was NOT cool for Baby Boomers. First thing seniors want to tell you is how old they are!!!!! Nobody asked!! Next is how many grand kids they have. Ever here of zero population growth? Then how many resorts they have been to and you haven’t!! Nothing more boring than an old person bragging ! Just SKI !!!!

    • Avatar Jan Brunvand says:

      Baby boomers started appearing some 20+ years after I was born, so I wouldn’t know what THEY regard as cool. As for me, I enjoy the social aspects of skiing and like to chat with people on the lifts, in the lodge, stopping for photos on the hill, etc. Is this “bragging?” Maybe, but I never brag about the moguls I’ve conquered or the gnarly chutes I ski because, of course, I don’t ski that way. Oh, did I mention that I have four kids, six grandkids, and one great grandson? Living in Utah, these numbers seem puny, but I agree that more than just replacing ourselves my wife and I are adding to the problem of overcrowded slopes. Sorry ’bout that.

  7. You are an inspiration to all seniors and non-seniors alike. I just turned 70 and I’ve been skiing for 40 years. I have never given up bumps and I still learn new things on bumps every time I ski.

    Learning is the key to staying young, not matter what age you are.

    • Avatar Jan Brunvand says:

      Hmm, maybe I should try again learning to ski bumps, starting with soft small ones. I had a bump lesson once at an Elderhostel, but it didn’t take. Sometimes I do try a few moguls at the edge of a run so I can bail out to the groomed snow if necessary. Usually I’m good for about two and 1/2 bumps before skiing aside. I’ll try to get that up to three or four this season. Promise!

  8. Avatar Eileen Fishkin says:

    Your article hit home! I’m skiing at 83, trying to get in 20 – 25 days, traveling from central NJ to VT, CO, UT and ME. I wrote an article for our Active Adult Community magazine a year ago, decrying the use of that dirty word still. Still skiing? Still traveling? Still ANYTHING. Finally escaping eternal green runs in my mid-fifties, I was challenged by a granddaughter to race NASTAR. Won a medal and manage to win one every time I race. Life is short. Enjoy it to the fullest, and get rid of “still”!

  9. Love your top 10 reasons you enjoy being a senior skier. For those of us who have only small, local hills to play on in the midwest, we cherish the midweek days when we can hit the slopes when the lifts open and then head for the bar or parking lot when we see the first yellow school bus arrive. No need to ski with the hot dogs or stay and ski in the glaring lights because we’ve had our fun for the day.

  10. Great List! Have skied every year since 1960 except one (non skiing related surgery). I was a late starter (14). bought my Studebaker GT Hawk in 1978. Thumbs Up on your ’53! Lots of Senior skiers around here (N. Idaho) but no others to my knowledge
    have a Studebaker!

    • Avatar Jan Brunvand says:

      Check the website of the Studebaker Drivers Club. There is at least one chapter in southern Idaho, and I’ll bet they have info on other Studes in the Gem State. I lived in Moscow ID for four years, skied Schweitzer the year it opened (1964) and quite a lot at the now-defunct North-South Ski bowl near town. At that point our Stude was still languishing in my in-laws’ barn.

  11. Avatar Peter McCarville says:

    Jan

    I really like the “reason” #7 but not sure I qualify to use it yet. What is the age limit for use of this and other listed reasons?

    Cheers

    Peter McCarville

  12. Hjalmar Hvam, a Norwegian-American competitive skier and the inventor of the first safety binding, who lived and skied on Mt. Hood, Oregon, once said “Skiers live a long time!” It surely worked for him. He lived till the age of 94.

    This statement was also often quoted by Henry Bendinelli, the founder of the Mt. Hood Ski Kats club. And it was true for him too. He skied until the age of 91 and died around his 92d birthday.

    Skiers live a long time in part because of the physical activity, but maybe even more so by breathing the fresh mountain air while non-skiers breathe that dark gray smoggy “soup” we see when we look down from the mountain top into the populated valley below.

  13. Jan – I’m a life-long skier (so far). Got my first equipment for Christmas at 5 years old and now fall into the 60+ category. Although I do still ski bumps (much more cautiously than in years past), crud and powder (would that we had more of that!), your reason #1 is brilliant and will one day describe my skiing well. Really enjoyed your article!

    I never had a class with you at the U of U, but I did with your colleague Meg Brady. One day she mentioned that you knew a ski song to the tune of Streets of Laredo. I piped up and said “I know that one.” She invited me to bring my guitar and perform it for the class. Turns out our songs were different. I think yours was a Jan Brunvand original. I lifted mine from my friend Ray Conrad’s album “The Cotton Pickin’ Lift Tower.”

    Keep on keeping on, Jan. Maybe we’ll run into each other some day at Alta!

    • Avatar Michael Maginn says:

      Tom: We are hoping to bring Ray Conrad’s album to our readers. Watch this space.

      • So glad to hear it! I view Ray as a creative genius and The Cotton Pickin’ Lift Tower as a “towering” achievement. I know a lot of it by heart and can tell you performing it invariably gets people’s attention. By the way, in summer Ray still plays with a band every weekend at the local farmers market in Torrey. Besides all that, he’s a helluva good guy.

        • Avatar Michael Maginn says:

          We are getting really close to publishing a link to download the CD The Cotton-Pickin Lift Tower. We will be selling it for $20 on CDBaby and we’re splitting the proceeds with Ray. BTW, Ray is really excited to have his music have another shot at greatness.

    • Avatar Jan Brunvand says:

      I learned that song at Michigan State College (sic) ski club gatherings. (I still have an MSC ski patch on one old parka.) I’ve heard variations, a sure sign of the song’s folkloric credentials. I am actually heard singing it on a Folkways lp devoted to variants and parodies of the British original of “Streets of Laredo” along with Pete Seeger and other “real” singers. The guy that compiled this lp was more interested in having a genuine skier sing it than someone who could actually sing. I kind of chanted it with a fellow grad student at Indiana U. strumming guitar chords. After two takes we gave up on improving my rendition and opted instead for “authenticity.”

      Look for me at Alta in Alf’s Lodge around noon many weekdays. My wife and I are the ones wearing the white and silver visor helmets made by the OSBE company. I have the Wild Old Bunch patch sewn on my case holding reading glasses around my neck.

  14. Avatar Geoff Prescott says:

    Thanks for your post, Jan. Keep on skiing! It ain’t over till it’s over!
    Geoff Prescott
    Mount Washington, Vancouver Island

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