Do Not Go Gently: A Boomer's Return to Skiing

It's never too late to get back on the mountain.
Groomed run_Suzanne Watson

Last year when my husband Alan turned 70, he decided to return to skiing. Like a lot of us Baby Boomers, he wouldn’t succumb to old age without a fight. While I admired his gumption, I predicted one trip into the cold climes of the Sierra would send him running back to Scottsdale, ski boots abandoned. No such luck – he became a ski nut.

A rendezvous with my ski boots was never on my bucket list but Alan’s excitement about an upcoming trip to Mammoth sparked my sense of adventure. And, let’s face it; I’m not ready to admit that I can’t do something because of my age. So after a 23-year hiatus, I agreed to go skiing.

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While skiing at Mammoth, I learned the sport had changed a lot and made some key observations.

No. 1:  Ticket pricing makes no sense.
I was surprised to find that the age for a "senior" ticket is 65. This is strange considering at 61 years, I qualify as a "senior" at the movie theater where the total of my physical exertion was to amble down a concourse, balancing a Pepsi and popcorn. At Mammoth, they strap two fiberglass boards to my feet, haul me up to 9,000 feet, expect me to get down on snow and ice, and somehow I'm just an "adult". This whole "senior" ticket thing requires some investigation.

No. 2: Ski equipment has come a long way.
The biggest advancement in ski technology may be the skis themselves. They used to be the height of my arm raised over my head.  Now, they barely come up to my chin. I like anything that gives me more control and these new skis are like my own little minion, awaiting my command. I had to remind myself that skiing with parabolic skis is simply a matter of shifting weight from side to side, not the old carving of edges that we used to do. 
Ski boot technology has improved as well, but one thing remains the same—getting down the stairs is still as challenging—if not more—than getting down the mountain. It was not lost on me that I could survive the skiing, only to break my neck on my way to the bathroom.

No. 3: There's a missed opportunity here.
Since my rendezvous with skiing, I’ve spent some moments angry with myself for missing so much fun for so many years. I don't know why we tend to be afraid of active sports, as we get older. I suspect it’s the fear of injuring ourselves. But living afraid just isn’t a satisfying way to live. So from now on I will apply my re-conquest of skiing to other things I’ve been afraid to try - except hang gliding. I’m not that crazy.


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