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Tips for intermediates over 40 planning to ski until 70+


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
What a great thread. I started skiing at age 45 and will apply to the 70+ski club in just a couple of months.

My advice is to get equipment as soon as possible, boots first. I think having your own equipment is a reason to ski and gives you the added confidence that comes with a consistent set up. Rental skis and boots are different every time and require getting used to how they work. Nothing improves your skiing faster than good boots. Skis look pretty but almost any ski these days will be a good ski until you become a much better skier.

Invest in a trip. You deserve it. It's fun. It expands your horizons. It will make you exhausted and very happy.

As Maine Ski Lady says, age is a state of mind. Don't worry about getting hurt. Be smart about where you ski and how long your day may be. Ski as long as you are having fun. That's what skiing is for. FUN!

Take lessons. I still take a lesson and attend Women's clinics. I personally find I learn better from another woman. We speak the same language and share the positive approach about what is going right. You will find that as in life, it's all about balance. When you are balanced it all works and both skiing and life are easier.

As for me...I have a good 20+ years left to ski. See you on the hill!


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
My tip is for the 40+ year old who wants to start skiing. As Warren Miller said, "If you don't do it this year, you'll be one year older when you do."

1. I think that having a Ski Buddy is essential. Find someone who skis at your level (or just a little higher) and has a passion to ski. Go as often as possible, whether at the local hill or a destination resort.

2. Life is too short to be around unhappy people. If your group is always critical of the conditions or lift lines or other people, find a new group of positive people.

3. Take lessons, but remember that if you are having fun, you are doing it right.

4. More Woo Hoo moments and less Self-Criticism. Allow yourself to ski the hill without that little voice in your head telling you to plant your pole, bend your knees, get forward, or don’t skid your turns. Give yourself permission to have fun and ski.

5. Every now and then, stop, turn around, and look at what you skied. “OMG, look what I just skied down!” Congratulate yourself on your accomplishments. You deserve it.


Certified Ski Diva
I'm old enough but my 86 year old mother's story is more interesting. She learned to ski at 58 along with my daughter. Fell in love and won't quit. Not for cancer or back surgery or a broken knee cap. She would say, "on your way to surgery remind the doctor that you expect to ski this winter and tell the therapist the same. Forget about the pain and remember what it feels like to fly! "

ski now work later

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I got my level 1 CSIA when I was over 60 and my level 2 the next year, and I think I can honestly say my skiing has continued to improve since then (largely because of the excellent sessions we get from CSIA). So just because you're getting older doesn't mean you have to give up skiing; as others have said, listen to your body so you don't overdo it, but continue to try and improve with lessons and lots of mileage.
Very inspiring! Gives me hope that one day I will be the all mountain advanced skier that I dream to be.

I started skiing at age 45 (not counting a dozen or so ski trips in the 60s, 70s, and 80s that involved snow plowing and dreaming of being a "real" skier). I've found that listening to my body helps alot, not pushing when I'm tired, taking lessons with good coaches, and getting equipment that was suited to my level (after a few mistakes which is how I found this forum back in February 2007). My challenge is that I don't get enough time on snow, so I'm a perpetual intermediate with days and hours when I cross over to advanced when conditions (snow and my psyche) are good. Last year's sucky season didn't help at all, and my work and financial demands keep increasing now that my daughter is in college. But I will do what I can do and plan to spend many a year on snow for years to come!

Inoffensive Nickname

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I started skiing 4 years ago at the age of 42, and consider myself intermediate. My first two seasons, I was in poor physical condition and could barely stand up from a fall, but before my 3rd season (last season), I started working out consistently and noticed that my technique improved tremendously. This off-season, I stepped up the workouts with some weight training and am eagerly anticipating the upcoming season.

Take a lesson, then take another. Take constructive criticism, but don't let anyone talk you into skiing beyond your capabilities. Be confident in your skis. Get a helmet and use it. Dress warmly. Nothing beats a good base layer. Know your limitations, but stretch yourself just a little beyond your comfort zone when you're having a good day. Get out there as much as you can, and if you can afford a trip to ski the big mountains, it's not a waste of time/money, because there are runs for every skill level. Buy your own gear, for consistency, and because it pays for itself very quickly through what you save if you had rented gear all those times. Avoid skiing on school holidays. One (no more) Bloody Mary pre-ski may help with the jitters (JMHO). Don't get over tired. Hot bath with epsom salts will help take away the aches and pains of a difficult day.


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
This is what I posted on a similar thread on EpicSki.

These things have made all the difference for me, and helped me advance steadily even with starting this sport at age 47:

1. Take a lesson. Take a LOT of lessons. Take as many as you can afford. Treat yourself to a private whenever possible (as noted elsewhere, signing up for midweek group lessons frequently nets you a private or semi-private). The money I've spent on lessons the last 4 years has taken me from total beginner to strong intermediate, now moving to blacks at an Olympic hill. If you "click" with a particular instructor, request them by name; lots of progress can be made this way.

2. Get your own boots. I bought my first pair in a shop on sale, then bought the current ones online on sale (same maker, higher flex). Find a bootfitter and get them properly fit. Knowing how to buckle them (and not pulling the tongue up too high) makes a world of difference in comfort. Rental boots are no fun at all. Plus, you can take your own boots to a destination a lot easier than your own skis (just rent at the destination, a chance to try something new).

3. The first day of each season, spend some serious time at the bottom of the hill getting your act together again. Write down all the necessary skills if it helps (this is a great time for a lesson). Once this is secure again, THEN go to the top. I didn't do this properly this year, and sustained a shoulder blade injury from a pretty spectacular crash (I crossed my tips). I did, however, impress the heck out of a group of snowboarders who grabbed my skis and boarded quickly down to me, saying "WHOA that was gnarly are you ok??"

4. Take some time on a nice weather day and appreciate the beauty around you. My instructor signaled to me one day to stop quietly, and pointed to the little ermine bounding across the run. Another time, we watched a bald eagle soar over the nearby lake. And of course, my favorite on bluebird days after a storm - "sparkle snow." Still not sure anything is quite so beautiful as what looks like a field of diamonds sitting on white velvet.


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Ditto Lilgeorg!! I didn't start skiing until I was 40. I have just 3 seasons under my belt. About 20 days per season - 12-13 west coast skiing. I prefer the soft forgiving terrain where I'm not afraid to fall - another perk in my book for older skiers. The traveling is worth every penny IMO.

I had tried skiing a few times as a teen/early 20's. No lessons, not wearing the right clothing and said "Hell NO"! I was a dedicated beach girl! I didn't have a complex about being the big 40, but I had some very sick family and aging family that gave me perspective that life is short and the world is big. My husband skied for years, I had one day left to book some FF flights before they expired and instead of another island vacation, BAM, I pulled the trigger and booked flights to Telluride and that started my ski obsession.

Lessons, lessons, lessons (and of course mountain time). I think being an older skier it takes more time for us to learn things both mentally and physically. I took some lessons before going to Telluride at our little Pocono PA Mountains. I joined a ski club the following year. I would never be where I am now without those lessons. I finished last season skiing the Great Western Chair at Brighton which accesses only black trails and that was after 6 days of skiing. So, I'm obviously skiing the mountain and not muscling my way down anymore to be able to ski that many days and finish on that kind of terrain. (I do wear knee braces when I ski to keep my old knees warm and supported)

Gear - like Lilgeorg said. Skiing YOUR gear will provide consistency. Entry level boots worked for me. I think the spastic things newbies do are forgiven in an entry level boot as there's a whole lotta - "ooops I didn't mean to do that" happening in the beginning. I moved on to better performance boots and my skiing improved again. I did go to a bootfitter who helped me pick out the right boot for me and made custom footbeds. Skis are another animal. I picked a good intermediate all mountain ski I could grown with. I feel like I am only now at the point where I am knowledgeable enough to determine what I like or don't like in a ski and where I want to ski it. Perk to being older... I don't give a crap what I look like. Gaper it is. I proudly wear my bootgloves which keep my always freezing feet toasty warm and boot trax which keep my boot bottoms like new AND a helmet!

Physicality - I was always athletic, but children, work, life come along and ya know... But skiing gave me a reason to step it up. And step it up I did. Every year is better than the last. This past year I even joined a dragonboat racing team (a sport I learned about on SkiDiva). We paddle 3 times a week and have a vigorous winter training program. I now lift weights (heavy) and started crossfit in July. I can run a 5k in 30 min. (for me this is a huge). Most of those aches and pains I had are gone. I'm so much stronger in everyway, physically and mentally. I'm loving my life and its all because of skiing!

Complaints - easy to find em. Someone is always going to break the rules. My life is better because I choose to overlook them.

I love being outside. I love the mountain vibe and people you meet. It doesn't matter who you are, where you come from, what your job is, as far as I'm concerned everyone is just a skier on the mountain. Its magical! Now I just need to move....


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Take some time on a nice weather day and appreciate the beauty around you. My instructor signaled to me one day to stop quietly, and pointed to the little ermine bounding across the run. Another time, we watched a bald eagle soar over the nearby lake. And of course, my favorite on bluebird days after a storm - "sparkle snow." Still not sure anything is quite so beautiful as what looks like a field of diamonds sitting on white velvet.
Beautifully written...
1. Take a lesson. Take a LOT of lessons. Take as many as you can afford. Treat yourself to a private whenever possible (as noted elsewhere, signing up for midweek group lessons frequently nets you a private or semi-private). The money I've spent on lessons the last 4 years has taken me from total beginner to strong intermediate, now moving to blacks at an Olympic hill. If you "click" with a particular instructor, request them by name; lots of progress can be made this way.
I started skiing a lot younger but I couldn't agree more strongly on this point!

A lot of "injury prevention" has to do with skiing correcly: with the right technique that's least stressful for the body!

The money spend on lessons will be a whole lot less than the bill for ACL reconstruction or replacement surgury!

(in that context also fits boots and ski, you can't execute half of the technique without the right fitting boots, so spend on boot fitting instead of on podiatrist bills later)

*** About the only thing I'd add, which has been mentioned by others a few times is keeping fit year round. Though that's more of a "given" for anyone over 40. Not just for skiing but general fitness. It's harder to do when there're other things crowding our schedule. But it simply needs to be given a high priority!

Without good health, you can't enjoy life as much. I'm not as robust as I was a mere 10 years ago, and have other health issues to be contend with. Still, I try my best to stay fit, as fit as I possibly can be.[/quote][/quote]
This discussion reminds me that it's time to take a women's ski clinic at Mammoth this season. There's one in late February that I have marked on my calendar, as I cannot make the January one. Anyone want to join me? I'll start a separate thread as the time gets closer.


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
My tips:
1. lessons, lessons, any time you can get them. private lessons if you can get them. group lessons if the other skiers in your group are at about your same level.
2. stop before you think you need to. listening to the "just one more" run voice is a great way to get an injury
3. remember that you have nothing to prove to anyone. leave the ego in the base lodge with your boot bag. if you need help, say so. if you think something's a bad idea, don't do it. if you're with people who want to ski more advanced runs than you're comfortable with, ski something else on your own. better to be the solo skier than the one who is in over the head.


I first skied in high school a few times, but never got beyond a snow plow. Didn't really get back to it until around age 54 or so, can't remember exactly. After a few years of making very slow progress and being a tentative skier at best, I decided I needed to get in some major miles to improve, and that's what I did. My husband (way better skier than I) and I got yearly ski passes, and committed to as much skiing as possible. In my best year I think our record was about 55 trips or some such. Anyway, we gradually acquired good gear (first thing I learned was that great fitting boots are #1 in importance), I learned how important WARM clothing is, and finally I was set to ski those miles. I finally became a pretty good skier, something I never quite believed I could achieve. And I LOVE skiing now. Our goal is to be members of the 70+, then 80+ and possibly the 90+ club at some point. I don't ever want to stop skiing, and I hate the months I can't ski even though I love the warmth of summer here in California's mountains.

I'll add that I think I was held back in the early years by fears of falling badly and breaking something. My fear of falling was dominating everything and progress was really slow. What I know now is that it's best to get your skills going quickly, because I had more falls and small injuries when I was a fraidy cat and learning and couldn't ski all that well. Now I don't fall at all, and I haven't hurt anything since 2003 when I fell getting of a chairlift....that ended my ski year because I sprained my shoulder and broke a rib hitting my pole as I fell. Silly, embarrassing to admit! But fine since then, and falling is no longer a worry, with the result that I've hugely improved every year and this is my best year yet, I've had some real breakthroughs in what I'm doing.

I take a lesson here and there, and find I also prefer women teachers, prefereably those in my age group (I'm now 63). After a lesson, I practice a lot until I'm ready for another lesson. Generally I prefer private lessons or small groups of two or three. I exercise a lot in other ways to stay in shape, do a lot of biking in summer, frequent workouts at the gym. All this pays off as you get older, and I'm in the best shape now I've ever been in. I don't plan to ever stop skiing if I can help it. Those octogenarian skiers I see flying down the hills all the time at Squaw are my inspiration! And YES! Age is a state of mind, I don't think much about it these days, I just do what I want with sports. I'm more active now than I was when my kids were young.


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Recently there was a thread about women racing at age 80 or older. I know there are Divas (and lurkers) who are over 40 and planning to ski as long as possible. Many who don't post may be intermediates who started skiing as adults. What tips or stories do you have for those who discover the fun of sliding down a snowy slope on downhill skis later in life?
Thanks so much for starting this thread, MarzNC. Talk about inspiring! Love reading all the responses here.


Angel Diva
Thanks so much for starting this thread, MarzNC. Talk about inspiring! Love reading all the responses here.
You're welcome!

Just spent the day at Massanutten with a friend who took full advantage of the never-ever program called Pathways. She's in her 40's. The program is normally two 1-hour lessons on the same day. Either one right after another, or can take a break in between. Turns out you can take Hour 1 in the teaching area with the magic carpet as many times as necessary before doing Hour 2. The goal of Hour 1 is to learn to turn and stop using a wedge (snowplow). Hour 2 involves taking the beginner lift up for Southern Comfort, a long easy, easy green run. She did Hour 1 four times (10, 12, 1, 2) before being ready for Hour 2. Just shows that when someone really wants to "get it", they will sooner or later.

One thing that was obvious was that the style of an instructor can make a huge difference. My friend found one instructor (older man) much harder to follow compared to a younger woman and the young man who she had for the last Hour 1 and Hour 2. She said the older man talked a lot, and fast, so it was hard to follow. By the late afternoon, there was only one other student for Hour 2. The advantage of a small ski area.


Diva in Training
While I learned to "ski" as a teenager, it wasn't until I was into my 50s that I took it seriously. Now, late in my 60s I ski better than ever. I can ski about anything. Some things look better than others!
My advice:
Stay fit.​
Ski often and long. back-to-back days are better for improving. Take a trip with a club for a week.​
Take lessons. Spend more on lessons than equipment.​
Ski with people better and fitter than you.​
Use decent equipment.​
Have a great time, every time. When someone says, "act your age!" Tell them you ARE acting your age. Give a Rebel yell getting off the lift. That is always invigorating; and it keeps the lift operators on their toes.​


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
While I had skis in college and went a time or two, I didn't really ski with any regularity, or have a lesson, until we started taking our boys when I was in my thirties. That continued until we took a twenty year hiatus in our fifties (for scuba diving, we didn't have enough holidays for both). It wasn't until we retired in '99 that we began skiing out west and more than a 7 - 10 days a year. Since 2008/9 we have lived in Big Sky and ski generally 5 days a week. (except for the 2009/10 season and this one, for medical reasons.)

The most important thing in my skiing is the support of DH. Having such a buddy to ski with, to encourage me and to encourage in return, to exchange critiques with and to share in the memories makes it so much more worthwhile. But then, he's made the last forty-five years so much more worthwhile, so no surprise there! He is braver and stronger than I and will go places I would not for which I have great respect. He feels I am the better technical skier and admires me for that. He takes me higher and steeper than I might otherwise go and I make adjustments to his technique that he might otherwise not bother with. But most of all, we love the joy of skiing together, stopping to admire the beauty of our surroundings or the exhilaration of an excellent run. Even now, while I am on "injured reserve" - and must literally force him out to find others to ski with - he is my strength and my support in difficult times. But he's also what I know will get me back on skis and back on the slopes, loving life and skiing - together.

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