Skiing or boarding in to old age is the dream of many, and the consensus of several studies over the years in to mental and physical well being in our later years indicates it makes sense to keep making your turns on the snow as long as you can.
But just how old is that? Well, so far, it seems: 107.
When a very old skier is spotted on the slopes a news story tends to be published so here’s a quick guide to some of the world’s oldest skiers of recent years.
The Man Who has Skied for Almost 100 Winters
Lou Batori is the world’s oldest known skier, recently hitting the slopes at the age of 107. Based in Washington State, Lou has been skiing since age 10. These days he has his own reserved parking space at Crystal Mountain ski resort.
“Waiting to be carted away is a stupid waste of life, you can replace anything – your shoes, your house, your belongings. But you cannot replace time…so make the best of it,” says Lou.
Born in Austria (some reports say Hungary), Lou first skied on home made wooden skis in the 1920s, not long after Alpine skiing had been invented and before the sport had been introduced to the Winter Olympics.
The report above was made when George was skiing at 100 back in 2011.
Britain’s Oldest Skier Was Still on The Slopes Aged 102
Hilda Jamieson from Angus in Scotland reportedly stayed on the slopes to age 102, shortly before her death in 2016, when a degenerative eye condition finally forced her to make her final run.
Hilda and her husband David were pioneers of Scottish skiing, first hitting the slopes on homemade skis in the 1930s, hiking up for the joy of a few minutes descent before the first ski lifts were built – many of them by the couple themselves as they helped create Glenshee Ski Centre. The couple’s three daughters all became keen skiers with one competing for team GB in the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble.
“Nowadays nobody walks, they just take a ski lift – and I doubt they could walk up those slopes. There were no edges on the skis and we only had leather boots, which I had to clean and dry five pairs of every weekend,” Hilda told local media, commenting on her retirement from the slopes and adding, “I love it so much, but I’ve had a good innings.”
The Man who Skied the Vallee Blanche for his 99th Birthday
Kiezo Miura was a legendary Japanese skier who celebrated his 99th birthday by skiing down the Vallee Blanche, the world’s longest lift-serviced off piste run, and celebrated his 100th birthday with four generations of his family skiing in Snowbird, Utah. A skiing teacher and photographer of mountain landscapes was, Keizo was also the oldest person to climb Kilimanjaro’s, age 77, and his oldest son Yuichiro, was the first man to ski Mt Everest. Keizo died in 2006, 41 days short of his 102nd birthday.
Australia’s Oldest Living Olympian. Age 95
Born in what was then Czechoslovakia in 1921, Frank Prihoda, now aged 95, was one of the European pioneers of skiing in the Snowy Mountains of Australia and represented Australia at the 1956 Olympics in Cortina. Frank currently works part time at Thredbo ski resort’s ski museum.
The Man Who Skied in July For His 100th Birthday
George Jedenoff’s has become a bit of an internet sensation in recent years, both for being a very old skier and for being as very nice person at the same time and a roll model to us all. George has been skiing in Utah every season since he first learned, aged 43, and when he turned 100 on July 5th last year and decided to hit the slopes on Snowbird to celebrate (pictured top, image credit Matt Crawley/Snowbird Resort).
“The motivation is a matter of attitude,” George says, “We’re on this earth just a short while and there’s no use trading in your chips too early. You have to stay in shape, you have to stay motivated. The thought of coming up here to ski is motivation enough.”
More of Us Are Becoming ‘Snow-A-Ps’
The Chill Factore indoor snow centre near Manchester reports that it has seen an increase in what it describes as the third generation or ‘Snow-A-Ps’ taking up skiing or snowboarding and visiting the real indoor snow slope at least four times a week.
In research undertaken by the destination, 83% of people said that they believed hitting the slopes kept them young at heart.
In addition seventy per cent of over 65s who ski or snowboard said the fresh mountain air helped them bat away any feelings of old age, with over 80% of people claiming snow sports help them de-stress and helps improve mood. Hitting the slopes is also the key to a good night’s sleep with 78% saying it helps them have better quality rest.
As well as the mental health benefits, there are also the physical ones. At 408 calories an hour, skiing burns more calories than tennis or aerobics, and almost twice as many as the equivalent time spent playing golf or badminton. Some regulars at Chill Factore have seen physical benefits including the slowing down of osteopenia and other conditions, a spokesperson for the centre claimed.
“Like many other sports, skiing burns a lot of calories and circulates oxygen and nutrient rich blood all around the body. However, what is special about skiing is the frequent bending and stretching of the legs and the need to respond to the bumps and other features of the slopes. These dynamic movements help to improve balance and muscle strength to make you a better skier on the slopes and to improve your overall physical fitness and health,” said Jamie McPhee, Professor of Musculoskeletal Physiology at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Two thirds of the over 65s researched by Chill Factore said they would still be skiing or snowboarding in their 70s, and one in seven (14%) were confident they’d still be going in their 80s. Some are even adamant they’ll still be on the slopes in their 90s!
“It’s the perfect sport to try at any age – it doesn’t matter whether you’ve skied or snowboarded before, we have plenty of people who start in their late 60s and get the bug! We have one gentleman who comes to Chill Factore several times a week who is 82,” said Morwenna Angove, Chief Executive at Chill Factore, “But half of over 65s say they easily lose motivation in getting fit, so it’s important to make sure you enjoy it.”
Ralph White, 82, tries to ensure he gets across to Chill Factore three to four times a week and regularly visits Europe during the winter season.
“I feel endorphins every time I hit the slope. I feel more positive and totally refreshed. I am a huge advocate for enjoying a recreational or physical activity as you get older. If you are deeply committed to something you enjoy, then keep it going! It will be a huge benefit to you both physically and mentally.”