I started skiing at the age of 6 and I’m now well above 50. My first boots had laces; my skis had screw-in edges and ski straps; my poles had leather strap baskets. A lot has changed since then – and thankfully.
If you are well under 50, you may be thinking, “This has nothing to do with me,” but it will at some point. You will hit the magical age of 50.
If you are indeed over 50, the fork in the road may be “you do ski” or “you would like to ski”. Either way, read on. Here are my 4 tips for skiing over 50:
1. Get Modern
Above, I described my first set of ski gear. When I’m at the hill, I still see people in purple ski suits (from the 70s), rear-entry boots and 200 cm. skis. Now “Throwback Thursdays” are one thing, but… Modern ski clothing provides warmth, durability and weather resistance.
Ski technology makes skiing easier (if you are old enough, think “before parabolic skis”). Get into your local ski equipment shop and talk to an experienced professional. They’ll fit you for boots (literally) and set you up with the best pair of skis for you based on your ability, normal terrain and your budget.
2. Get Fit
Skiing is tough work and you need to be in some kind of “ski fit” condition to really enjoy yourself. I’ve talked about it earlier this season for Liftopia – “How To Get Ready For The First Day Of The Ski Season”.
As a Ski Patroller, and someone who is over 50, I ski all day. It’s a given that I’ll be tired the next day (as I am today) but you need to have enough stamina during the ski day to enjoy your time on the slopes (be it a half day, full day or ski vacation).
Skiing is great exercise and requires at least some strength and flexibility. As you get older, it gets tougher to get up if you fall. But it’s tougher still to get up if you aren’t in shape.
3. Get Lessons
It’s never too late to learn to ski. Lessons are an absolute necessity if you are learning to ski at any age. A professional ski instructor will make learning to ski fun and help you to master the basics and stay safe. You’ll enjoy yourself and look forward to a good time on the slopes.
Even if you have skied for a while, or are coming back to skiing, a “tune up” lesson, clinic or program is a great way to improve your skills.
4. Get Out There
The over 50 market is a big one and a growing one for the ski industry. Websites, equipment, clothing, lessons and more are all geared to “north of 50”. There are over 50 ski clubs and groups (regular clubs, clubs for singles, seniors clubs) to ski in a group and socialize afterwards. There are over 50 ski holidays offered by some ski clubs and ski tour operators. Liftopia has you covered for great deals on lift tickets when you buy in advance and if you are over 65, they have senior prices too. There are no excuses!
I skied before i was married, started in my teens. Once I married at 25 my skiing days were over as I set toI raising my growing family and just couldn’t afford skiing. When I was rapidly knocking on the age 50 year mark, I decided to buy my first ever 4wd and all new ski gear. I was fearful that I was too old, that I wouldn’t remember but you know what? It is like riding a bike and you don’t forget. There is no better day in my book than one spent swooshing down the hill with the wind blowing through my hair. My daughter started her mountain experience as a snowboarder, never very good, ignoring my advice to try both. Last year she decided to try skiing and LOVES it. She has purchased a set of skis. Her two snowboards and gear sits collecting dust. She knows she will never be able to keep up with Mama haha.
I think if anyone who is even considering skiing should just go for it. I feel alive and like a kid when I am on the mountain. I wish I had never quit. I like new challenges and in a couple of months will run my first 10k.
Love reading all these great posts. I’m 53 sitting in my first ski seasonal rental in Tahoe with my first broken ankle.reading These comments was so inspiring. Even if my season may be over this year I will get back out there next year thanks guys
A response from another older skier (I’m 64). …. I envy you your knees, if you can train for a 10k! I’ve never stopped skiing but had stopped running, so when the university put in a new padded track, I thought ‘wonderful – I’ll get back to it’! Within one week, I’d injured my right knee and hip, and was in for months of physical therapy. December came, along with our family Christmas in Vermont (I live in Indiana — no decent skiing here…), and I debated whether to even try it. The GOOD news?? Neither my knee nor my hip bothered me much at all – at a time when I still was wearing a knee brace, and had trouble walking long enough to do my grocery shopping! Three years later I still have some residual hip problems, avoid walking for very long distances (no more day long hikes), but no problems at all with skiing (though I’m careful on the moguls). One obvious difference is that running – and even walking – puts much more up and down pressure on those joints. So fellow older skiers, keep that in mind. I know everyone is different in regard to these joint issues, but I’ll keep going as long as possible… .
45th season on skis. Tip #2, word.
I am 48 and have been snowboarding for 20 years. Now with a 7 yr old who skis, I am going back to 2 planking simply because I can last all day with the kid. Try to give assistance while boarding almost gave me a heart attack last yr. lol I plan to ski as long as I can and agree with #2 the most. I am renting all new demo gear(vokl’s) and I am psyched because I have never skied on parabolics.
I have been skiing since my early teens. At 53 when I retired from elementary school teaching I became certified as a Ski Instructor in Canada (CSIA). Now 69 I still ski hard and fast. (Except I don’t do bumps anymore due to two hip replacements). For me the secret is to be active and fit all year round. One draw back for me is that winters are always too short.
You might not like rear entry boots but I find them much easier to put on and off and am always waiting for the front entry people to get their boots on or off.
Rear-entry boots are garbage and they seriously affect the weight distribution negatively to the shovel of the ski where it needs to be to make a turn. Before a racer friend of mine tutored me into another magnified level of competence, I used rear-entry boots for 10 years. They stopped any progression due to no front buckles to pressure the foot where it needs to be. I am 69 and ski better every year. Equipment is HUGE: Vacuum boots, several different types of skis for varying conditions; all-mountain for groomers and hard pack, mid-fats like a Fisher Water for crud and fluff (the best all-around ski to take with you if you travel and only can take 1 pair!), and Fatties like my Rossy Super 7’s for float in the powder. Last but not least the 165 slaloms for bunny-like quick turns on the groomers and hard-pack.
I’m 68, ski 70 days a year, have skied for 63 years and still find it FASCINATING, FUN AND FULFILLING.
I’m 61, riding a monoski for the last 25 years. Best thing for your knees ever developed! See us in the Monopalooza segment of this year’s Warren Miller film Chasing Shadows! It’s a lot easier than it looks, and if you quit skiing because your knees hurt, find one of these to demo!
Skiing is life, and a life style. Go till you can’t.
57 here. Been skiing/biking fairly regularly since the age of 12. 1 bad knee but not bad enough to hand it over to a surgeon. Biking/gym 12+ hrs/week means that skiing is a “rest day” by comparison. Love my skiing but its not a foundational sport. Get your weight down, get in shape, come to the mountain prepared to do battle!
72 and telemarking every day I can. It takes a couple weeks to get my knees working properly, but the tele motion makes them a lot stronger. New gear helps a lot – DPS/NTN/SCARPA.
There is a legendary guy at Alta, Utah who is 98 and still skis regularly. Watching him from afar with his helmet and goggles one would never guess his age. Great form and poise. Inspiring for us young kids in our 50’s and 60’s !
54 and knees are failing. Osteoporosis. Skied only 17 days this season. Cortisone injections every 2 months. It’s looking like possible knee replacement soon for me….. So I can keep skiing long into my 70’s hopefully!
Had a TKR Mar 15, Stryker. Today was my 70th day skiing. No pain all day, do it, don’t wait. 55 and loving it!
Do the knee now and rehab like a mad bitch. Did mine a couple of years ago. Skied end of January, had the replacement, and was back on the slopes in April.
Was having a miserable time skiing at Whistler this past week. That certainly left me wondering what was going on since am in good shape even if I am also 58. The cause turned out to be that my skis (12-year-old K2 Axis X-s) were totally worn out. I now have new skis, and probably should have gotten them a few years ago.
The moral of this story: It is not necessarily your body. If you are starting to have issues, look into new equipment first.
I’m 64. Lumbar fused. Cervical fused. Broke ribs skiing last year at A Basin. At Purgatory now. Won’t stop until I cannot walk up to the mountain.
You probably see my doctor friend Tom on a regular basis. 2nd open heart surgery this fall and back on the slopes this winter. Dude is awesome. I’m with you on the won’t stop. Lose eyes – blind ski. Lose arms – no big deal just don’t use poles (saves some equipment cost). Lose a leg – single ski. Lose both – sit ski. Lose it all – sit in a damn sled and have someone ski me down the mountain.
54 going on 55 with an artificial half right knee from too much running, rugby and rowing. Been skiing since I was 16. Still doing double blacks and loving face shots on 1st year Salomon Q115s with Marker touring bindings. Would love to know where all these supposed over 50 ski groups are at. Went storm chasing last week at Mammoth and slept in my tent at the RV campground to (1) save a bunch of money and still have some amenities (hot showers, pool and hot tub) and (2) do some winter camping with skiing without completely roughing it. If some over 50 group was interested it probably would have been more comfortable in a shared condo, especially when the tree avalanche bombs starting falling on my tent at 1 am. No success in locating any kind of groups in SoCal, and I just moved out here so have no ski buddies in place. Give us some links to the groups.
Check the ski clubs, there are many throughout the southland and generally their demographic is over 40 and into 60’s. Some do drive up trips, some do bus trips, they all stay in larger size condo’s like 3 or 4 bedrooms. Huntington Beach Ski Club is great: http://www.hbskiclub.com. Don’t know where you live, but there are clubs and Meetup groups from San Diego up through Santa Barbara.
Thanks Vicki. I’m out in the desert and there’s nothing out here that I’ve stumbled across. Trying to get something going through La Quinta Community Services. I’ll definitely look into the HBskiclub.
well be in south lake Tahoe April 9-16. email me if you come email@example.com
we have roomin our condo. shared fees.
Thanks for the offer! Not likely that I’ll make it that weekend. Heading up to Squaw for a couple of days this week.
ok…do tell how the skiing is!
I just got back from skiing in Switzerland on my 75th! I won’t mention how my 8 year old granddaughter left me in the dust (snow) ;-). My advice….take it slow. and make sure you are using the right equipment..
My mother is 90 going on 91 and she still skis at Alta! Loves to go to Alf’s for lunch! Walks everyday and strength trains a couple times a week.
Biking, both mountain and road have made skiing a pleasure. Its also easy on the knees. I’m in better shape at 57 than I ever was and the new equipment is awesome. I remember as a kid seeing that if you were 70 you could ski for free. Based on all the posts I’m reading and the popularity of senior skiing I guess I’ll have to ski into my 80s to see that discount!
Wear a helmet to protect yourself from those that do !!
I’ve been snowboarding for 30+ years now. At 53, I’m motivated to stay in shape and come Sept. i gradually step up my Leg workouts! I’m not as crazy with risks as I used to be, but still enjoy challenging terrain. I also plan 1 heli-trip a year. This year Alaska! I don’t plan on slowing down until my body tells me to. lol
Am 46 and skiing for 2 years now. I found out that I have spent my life on nothing without skiing !! I was looking for skiing tricks for old people like me and I came across your site. Great words you wrote and I will take it seriously when I pass 50 :).
Do you have any trickes to teach us 🙂