I was 55 when I learned to ski. Why would I learn a new sport at such an age? My husband is a self proclaimed ski bum, worked in the ski industry for over 30 years and an avid backcountry skier. We both got tired of leaving me at home or in a hotel room, and my husband just wanted me to come along with him. So, one fateful winter, I decided to learn to ski with the idea that I would venture into the backcountry with him when I got comfortable on the boards.
That was four winters ago and I have learned to ski and hellied into backcountry lodges. I would like to share some thoughts on gear, instruction, practice, peer skiers and patience when learning to ski over 50.
Appropriate skis and boots are a must for all skiers, and especially for beginners. Jim and Alex, at Sundance, suggested the skis, poles and boots I should purchase and I have never regretted their recommendations. I also bought goggles, a helmet, mitts, jacket and then a couple of years later, backcountry skis, bindings, boots, poles, avalanche gear and clothes. I recommend talking to folks who really know their gear and are passionate about the sport.
All beginner skiers should enroll in lessons. Either group or private lesson, someone who is trained to teach the art of skiing. Get the basics down and ski. Then take more lessons, and ski. Then repeat. I am fortunate that my husband is a ski instructor. I ski one afternoon a week at a local Edmonton hill where my husband teaches. We all hear horror stories about husbands trying to teach their wives how to drive, or ski, or do anything. Disaster! Right? Well, in our case, not so much. We seem to be able to handle the instructor/student relationship, although I will admit every so often we have a LOUD CHAT on the hill.
I have cross country skied for 20 years and so even when on alpine skis, I am most comfortable doing snow plow! When in doubt…..pizza! I turn much better to one side than the other. I am slowly getting used to the speed needed to do nice parallel turns. I still have to relax and not be so tense and full of concentration. It is a work in progress. Even after all this, I am a decent skier.
Practice, practice, practice. Go skiing. To the mountains, where the runs are long. Start with the Greens and work your way to the Blues and then once in a while, test yourself on a harder run. Ski with friends, relatives and peers who ski at the same level, or slightly above you. Don’t go with someone who will let you harm yourself, or sit down and cry, know your limits. My husband is content to ski with me on Blue runs, but he does push me to ski some easier Blacks.
My last comment is to be patient. When over 50, it takes time to learn the technique involved in a new sport, to convince your body to perform the necessary moves and for your bravery to outdo your fear. Concentrate on the fun, being outside and the glorious view.
Just because one is over 50, doesn’t mean one is relegated to knitting and crosswords. Skiing is very doable with the right gear, some instruction, lots of practice and patience.