New To Ski

When Are You Too Old to Ski? (Age 1 to 101)

by Megan Coles | Published: December 8th, 2022
ski with dog 9

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Toddlers and their grandparents can ski the same mountain together and enjoy it as much as the other. But at what age is it too old to ski?

The simple answer is that you’re never too old to ski, but there can be some traits that come with aging that may make skiing harder. There’s no magic number, but if you struggle with day-to-day movements or have poor eyesight, you may have to pause for thought. 

I asked a ski instructor who the oldest person they taught to ski was, and their answer was 81 years old. Their client was a complete beginner, and within two days, he had taught them to ski down blue slopes. The ski instructor took certain levels of precaution given the client’s age, but they managed it, proving that there’s no age limit to skiing.

Reasons To Ski In Later Life

First, let’s start with the positives of skiing as an older person. 

1. Stay Active

We all know that the key to staying young is to keep active, and what better way to do it than skiing? It’ll keep you fit and your body moving, while also being great fun!

2. Social

Skiing is a social sport, and many ski hills will have clubs and events for all ages. There are also vacation providers that offer ski trips specifically for skiers over a certain age allowing you to meet like-minded people and share your love of skiing. 

3. Family Fun

Skiing can be enjoyed at any age, so it is the perfect family activity. Grandparents can enjoy the slopes just as much as their grandchildren making for wonderful family memories. 

4. Enjoy the Outdoors

There’s arguably no better way to enjoy nature and the great outdoors than skiing. Being amongst the elements with views from the mountaintop and breathing in the crisp mountain air is unbeatable.

Am I Fit Enough To Ski?

Avoriaz Ski
Photo by Andre Bach under CC BY-SA 2.0

The question shouldn’t be “am I too old to ski?‘ but rather “am I fit enough to ski?“. There are a few prerequisites to consider if you want to learn how to ski later in life or if you’re a well-versed skier wondering when is the time to step away from the sport. 

If you want to ski, you must be active in day-to-day life, this doesn’t mean running a marathon a week, but it does mean that you’re able to move around independently with little pain or inconvenience. If you struggle to get in and out of a chair or cannot bend down and touch your toes, you may not be fit enough to ski. 

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Falling over is a likely part of skiing whether you’re learning, intermediate or advanced so if you’ll have trouble getting up from the ground then you may find skiing a challenge. Additionally, if you’ve got a weaker body and falling could result in serious injury then skiing is a no-go. 

Health Conditions and Skiing

Backcountry skiing

Breathing problems shouldn’t stop you from skiing but if you suffer from severe breathing issues, consult your doctor for advice. As for heart conditions, they can be made worse by altitude, so if this is a concern, try looking at ski resorts at a lower height.  

Another thing to take into account is your eyesight. If you’ve got poor vision, this can make skiing dangerous, but with great prescription sunglasses and goggles on the market, this may not be a problem.

Getting a Skiing Lesson

If it’s your first time skiing or you haven’t skied for a while, then get a lesson with a ski instructor. Remember that your instructor is there to guide you and help you improve your technique; they’re not there to carry your weight or pick you up when you fall.

This could lead to injury for both of you, so if you don’t feel you can support yourself after a fall, enlisting an instructor’s help could be dangerous. 

If you’ve been a skier for years, then there won’t be a magic number to stop the sport, but given your experience, you should know your limits. If you’re unsure, ask people around you for advice on whether they think you should slow down. 

Tips for Older Skiers

Skiing boarding at Thredbo
Photo by Murray Foubister under CC BY-SA 2.0

Snow Conditions

The snow conditions may have an impact on you more when you’re skiing as an older person so should be considered when booking your ski trip. If you’re not so light on your feet then you’ll want to avoid slushy or icy conditions. If you struggle with bad eyesight then only ski on clear weather days to allow for optimal vision. 

See Also:  How To Wash Ski Pants? (Without Damage)

Take Care

As an older person skiing, you’ll want to take regular breaks and don’t set out to ski every day of your trip, rest will be crucial. Also, take it easy when you’re out skiing as crashes can have higher consequences in older age, and progress slowly within your body’s means. 

Ski Holiday for over 50’s

There are numerous vacation providers that offer group ski trips catered towards the mature skier.

If you’re a single skier these can be a great way to meet new like-minded people and ski with people at your pace. The ski club of Great Britain offers vacation packages aimed at those over the age of 55. Named ‘Peak Experience Holidays’, they provide group vacations by matching up with like-minded individuals and skiers with similar abilities.  

Ski for free

There can be benefits to skiing in later life, resorts all over the world offer skiers over a certain age major discounted lift tickets or even lift tickets completely free of charge. The cut-off does tend to differ between resorts, as does the specific discount so check the resort website before visiting. 

In France, free skiing tends to be for those above 75 years old which is the same in resorts such as Whitewater in Canada. Whereas many resorts will have discounted lift tickets for those as young as 60. 

Well-known Older Skiers

A famous name in the ski world is Klaus Obermeyer, he was the first to introduce the ski brake, the plastic ski boot, and many other inventions we all regularly use while skiing.  The German skier lives in the resort of Aspen and was still skiing last year at the age of 102.

He’s a skiing legend and living proof that there’s no age to stop skiing. Obermeyer is an excellent example of skiing keeping you young, each winter he clocks in around 100 days on the mountain and can ski better than many people half his age.

So, Am I Really Too Old To Ski?

Age is just a number, and this couldn’t be more true for skiing. Anyone of any age can enjoy the mountains for as long as their body will allow them to. If you’re no longer able to ski, don’t write off going along on the family ski trips; there will be plenty of things to do in the resort, even as a non-skier, and it will allow you to spend precious time with your family or friends. 

Q&A

Q: Is there a specific age limit to ski?

A: There is no specific age limit to ski, but physical ability and personal preferences may make it harder for older individuals to enjoy the sport.

Q: What factors should I consider to determine if I am fit enough to ski?

A: To ski, you must be active in day-to-day life and be able to move around independently with little pain or inconvenience. If you struggle to get up from the ground, have weaker body, or suffer from severe breathing or heart problems, skiing may be challenging. Poor eyesight can also make skiing dangerous.

Q: Can I ski if I have health conditions such as breathing or heart problems?

A: If you have breathing problems, it is best to consult your doctor for advice. Heart conditions may be made worse by altitude, so consider skiing at lower heights. Prescription sunglasses and goggles can help with poor vision.

Q: What should I do if I am a beginner or haven’t skied in a while?

A: If you are a beginner or haven’t skied in a while, it is recommended to get a lesson with a ski instructor. Remember that the instructor is there to guide and improve your technique, not to carry your weight or pick you up after a fall.

Q: What tips should I follow as an older skier?

A: As an older skier, consider the snow conditions and choose slopes that match your abilities. Take regular breaks to rest and avoid overdoing it. Wear appropriate clothing and equipment, including helmets. Listen to your body and stop if you feel uncomfortable or unwell.

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