Retirees ski more than any other age group

COLORADO SPRINGS — The 2013-14 ski season was only a couple of hours old and there was still plenty of fresh snow to go around Nov. 23, but Bob Wight was calling it a day before noon.

“I can’t stay out as long as the young kids,” said Wight, 66, of Salida. “Twelve to 15 runs absolutely max, and that’s at the end of the season.”

But statistics show older skiers such as Wight are hitting the slopes a lot more than the “young kids.”

According to the National Ski Areas Association, while young people make up the majority on the slopes - the average skier is 38.5 years old - the person who skis the most in a given year is 65 or older.

Credit advances in artificial hips and knees that make it possible for skiers to continue enjoying the sport; shaped skis, along with better snowmaking and grooming that make skiing easier; and high-speed lifts and luxury touches such as ski valets that make it more pleasant. And retirees have a lot more free time to ski in the middle of the week to avoid the crowds.

Bragging rights go to those age 68 and older, who averaged 9.5 days skiing last season. Boomers - those age 49 to 67 this year - also skied more than the national average of five times per year, according to an NSAA survey released in August.

Colorado Springs skier Jimmy Rogers learned the sport in the 1980s, when skis were long planks designed for speed and not ease of turning.

“The technology, right now they’re going to a great big wide ski, and it just helps you ski better. It’s easier to execute the turns. The equipment, you don’t have to fight it,” said Rogers, 73. “Ski boots are so much more comfortable and warmer. The clothing is warmer.”

Sure, soreness comes on a little more readily than in his youth, but, he said, “some ibuprofen will relieve some of the aches and pains and a couple of Budweisers will knock out the rest of it.”

He finds the 2.5-hour drive each way from Colorado Springs even more exhausting than the day on the hill, so he only skis with the Blazer Ski Club, a Colorado Springs club that provides rooms, bus rides to the slopes and older skiing partners.

Similar clubs have emerged all over ski country. The Colorado Springs-based Over the Hill Gang International has 3,000 members, offering camaraderie, discounted tickets and ski trips near and far.



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