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Tips for intermediates over 40 planning to ski until 70+

For several years now, I've been thinking that I have to start getting in better shape, especially if I want to keep skiing. This is a wonderful thread, and so inspiring! Now, all I need to do is get off my butt...
What I learned after knee rehab several years ago is that spending a few minutes 2-3 times a day on simple balance exercises is worth more than worrying about how to fit in an hour-long workout for cardio or leg strength. Consistency is what helps the small muscles used for 1-leg balance and improve proprioception.

I do a some variation of these balances exercises when standing around at home or waiting for what ever reason when out shopping or going to appointments.

The four exercises in this short video by an Aussie trainer require no equipment and can be done indoors or outdoors. Trick is to find a way to learn good form, preferably with someone who can watch and correct minor flaws. The exercises are: bunny hops, traveling lunges, squats, and a wall sit.
 
This is amazing information. Thank you!
You're most welcome. My very first blog post when I started pulling together ideas for ski fitness for older skiers included the balance video in Post #160.

Here's the other video about balance exercises that I found very useful. Also by an Aussie trainer. There seems to be far more emphasis about improving proprioception in Australia. The good thing about the approach is that there is a clear progression from easy to very hard. My personal trainer has been working with a senior close to 80 who can't stand on one leg for more than 5 sec. He's in very good shape otherwise (runs daily). So starting with two feet on the ground makes more sense.

 
Back when I started this thread in 2012, I had the sense that many Divas who don't post may be intermediates who started skiing as adults. Here are the questions I asked in Post #1 to help intermediates who are having so much fun that they would like to ski more and more given the usual constraints of free time and money.
  • 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?
  • When is buying boots worthwhile?
  • When is buying skis worthwhile?
  • Is going on a ski vacation to a destination resort as a beginner or intermediate worth the time and money?
Are you an intermediate? If so, please post any other questions that come to mind.

I posted my story in Post #2. Here's a slightly updated version. I've become a solid advanced skier in recent years but remember being an adult intermediate very clearly.

I've reached 62, the age when getting a senior discount for a lift ticket is starting to become more common. I started my daughter at age 4, took her to Alta at age 7, and she was a better skier than I was by age 11 thanks to ski school (Massanutten, Alta). I was lucky to learn to ski at 13, but only got to ski for a couple seasons before a long hiatus. I was close to 50 when I started skiing more regularly.

What helped the most going from intermediate to advanced:

  1. Time on the snow. Went from 4 days to an average of 12 days locally, plus a couple one week trips out west. For local weekend trips, even an hour at night was worthwhile.
  2. Getting boots that fit well from a local boot fitter who could make adjustments when needed.
  3. Demoing skis to learn that I could tell the difference.
  4. Finding ski buddies for me and/or my daughter.
  5. Lessons from very experienced instructors, including a high-level multi-day clinic.

I took my time buying skis, but always had my own boots as an adult. Didn't buy good skis until I knew I was going to keep skiing. By then I also had demo'd enough to have an idea what what to buy during spring sales.

For #4, that started as finding ski buddies for my daughter so that local weekend trips were more fun for both of us. The closest slopes to our house are 3-4 hours drive away. However, what helped my skiing improve was having the opportunity to ski with people at big mountains who were better skiers. Finding ski buddies who were advanced skiers, but not hard chargers, for trips out west was a game changer. Helps a lot to ski with friends who are quite willing to wait a bit or to check out snow conditions for a potential adventure off-piste. The first few seasons I did trips out west, I would be more adventurous with friends in the morning, and then take it easy after lunch.
 

cvana

Certified Ski Diva
Is going to resorts worth your time? Absolutely! There is so much to enjoy and learn - something new at every place you visit. If you have to choose between boots and skis, choose boots. They are easier to travel with, and your ski choice may change with each place you visit. Carpe Diem!
 
Is going to resorts worth your time? Absolutely! There is so much to enjoy and learn - something new at every place you visit. If you have to choose between boots and skis, choose boots. They are easier to travel with, and your ski choice may change with each place you visit. Carpe Diem!
Do you have recommendations for an intermediate looking to ski at a big resort for the first time?
 
This thread is all very heartening. When I graduated from college I moved to Squaw Valley to learn to ski. I spent two years there, the first year with a broken leg from slipping on a wet floor at work. By the time I left I could ski any run at Squaw. Then there was a huge hiatus of career and child rearing when I was lucky if I got a few runs in while teaching kids to ski. Fast forward to retirement--with family members who needed care--Finally, I'm back at it hoping this is the year I get the time in the snow--I have arthritic knees and just had a spectacular fall that wrenched one--so I'm needing this inspiration to keep moving forward.Thank you
 
This thread is all very heartening. When I graduated from college I moved to Squaw Valley to learn to ski. I spent two years there, the first year with a broken leg from slipping on a wet floor at work. By the time I left I could ski any run at Squaw. Then there was a huge hiatus of career and child rearing when I was lucky if I got a few runs in while teaching kids to ski. Fast forward to retirement--with family members who needed care--Finally, I'm back at it hoping this is the year I get the time in the snow--I have arthritic knees and just had a spectacular fall that wrenched one--so I'm needing this inspiration to keep moving forward.Thank you
Glad you have figured out a way to get back on the slopes!

My hiatus was 10 years completely off snow after becoming an intermediate skier on straight skis in middle school, then infrequent trips as a working adult with no kids when I was only skiing blue groomers. Didn't become a solid advanced skier until after age 55, partially because I started taking lessons regularly after knee rehab (not a skiing injury). Although what made the biggest difference was finding ski buddies for trips out west since my DH is a non-skier.

Have you found this thread yet? Might be a bit more relevant given that you were clearly an advanced skier before your hiatus.
Tips for advanced skiers over 50 planning to ski until 80+
 

snowdog

Certified Ski Diva
You're most welcome. My very first blog post when I started pulling together ideas for ski fitness for older skiers included the balance video in Post #160.

Here's the other video about balance exercises that I found very useful. Also by an Aussie trainer. There seems to be far more emphasis about improving proprioception in Australia. The good thing about the approach is that there is a clear progression from easy to very hard. My personal trainer has been working with a senior close to 80 who can't stand on one leg for more than 5 sec. He's in very good shape otherwise (runs daily). So starting with two feet on the ground makes more sense.

GREAT video!!
 

CindiSue

Certified Ski Diva
I live in a ski town and it's super inspiring how many people ski well into their 80's. But I will add this, protect your eyes, but at the same time get comfortable skiing without visibility when you are young. Many of these older (good) skiers will only ski on sunny days because they have trouble seeing. I also have always been afraid to ski without visibility (snowing and flat light.) But now that I am in ski class weekly and having to go whether there is visibility or not, I'm getting more comfortable. I know many older skiers with artificial knees and hips, but you still can't replace your eyes.
 
But now that I am in ski class weekly and having to go whether there is visibility or not, I'm getting more comfortable.
Following instructors who provide info about tactics for where to ski in flat light or fog/snow is a good way to get more comfortable when it's hard to see.

For travelers who are interested in improving over multiple seasons, there are advantages to going to the same destination resort a few times instead of always going to a different location. For a 1-week ski vacation, it can take a few days to figure out your favorite trails at a new ski resort. Especially if you are not comfortable exploring off blue runs without an instructor or a ski buddy who knows the mountain well. If it happens to be low visibility to start with, then even more difficult.

There have been a few times when I've spent a day in less then optimal snow conditions at a mountain I don't know that well simply for future reference in the event I can get back with great snow but lousy visibility. It's easier now that I'm comfortable on any black terrain. But I started exploring in that when I was still skiing mostly on groomers out west. For example, I think Snowbasin is good fun when it's snowing but only if you know where to go. I know it's true of Alta where I have the most experience learning from advanced/expert locals and regulars.
 

MotherDuck

Diva in Training
I am new to SkiDiva community and I have finally finished reading this wonderful thread. I think one tip that has not been mentioned so far is to:

Develop the love of skiing in your children as early as possible.

Well, it's essentially "Ski as many days as possible". But it has been like Mission Impossible to me for many years. For those of us who are moms know this very well that our time is not in our control when we have kids in the nest.

Like many have mentioned, I too have a long hiatus due to career and child rearing. I first tried skiing when I was 24 over 20+ years ago and fell in love with it despite the falls and bruises. Then I moved to a country near the earth equator for a couple of years and didn't have time/money to travel for skiing. Moved to the Bay Area 19 years ago but DH has bad knees and his desire to learn to ski didn't win him over the fear of more injuries(which is wise in my opinion). Then 3 kids came to life so as many other family activities(play dates, soccer games, gymnastics classes, etc) took precedence over skiing. I tried going skiing by myself a couple of times a season, then took turns to bring 1 kid with me, and then 2 when they are older enough to carry their own skis. Kid #2 is now a hard core skier and wouldn't mind getting up early or sitting in traffic for 2-7 hours(when traffic or road condition is bad).

This season, I signed up kid #3 (4 yo) in a ski program which has lessons on 9 Sundays. So storm or not, we're going to the mountain! And this really helped me to finally get double digits days on the slopes in a season. And when kid #3 is in lesson, kid #2 and I are trying black runs. And kid #3 progressed so well in the ski program. When the program finished, she could ski with us on easy black runs during the spring break. Next year, I'm determined to sign myself up for some lessons/clinics to be able to keep up with them.

And I'm going to find a boot fitter to get myself a pair of good boots before this season is over. Yes, I just learned its importance here.

Thank you everyone for sharing your tips on this thread.
 

EdithP

Diva in Training
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.
As to "that little voice in your head" . As an intermediate late bloomer who must be progressing at a snail's pace, I am finally learning to pole plant, and having all kinds of issues with coordination. Could you perhaps tell me the "mantra" to have in my head? Like : 1. plant 2.bend 3. get forward...and which is next, full circle? Until you get to the next pole plant? As an INTJ I rely on such "procedures" rather than "just do it, you'll get the flow". Thank you, that would be a great help.
 
As to "that little voice in your head" . As an intermediate late bloomer who must be progressing at a snail's pace, I am finally learning to pole plant, and having all kinds of issues with coordination. Could you perhaps tell me the "mantra" to have in my head? Like : 1. plant 2.bend 3. get forward...and which is next, full circle? Until you get to the next pole plant? As an INTJ I rely on such "procedures" rather than "just do it, you'll get the flow". Thank you, that would be a great help.
First - start calling it a pole “touch”, not a pole plant. It’s a light touch of the pole on the surface of the snow. Pole “plant” gives the wrong idea. It’s a motion almost entirely of the wrist (and maybe a little elbow at times) - a very subtle movement. If you cannot swing your pole forward using a wrist motion without the tip hitting the snow your poles are too long (a common problem).

For a typical gliding pole touch while skiing think of it like the blinker in your car. You blink then you turn. Blink, turn, blink, turn.
Left hand pole touch before a left turn; Right hand pole touch before a right turn; After the touch, put the pole away again. That is - return it immediately to its normal position with the pole angled down and back - basket/tip behind your heel.
 

EdithP

Diva in Training
Thank you for still being there and giving me the answer.
English is not my first language and I probably did not ask exactly what I wanted to learn (so your blinking metaphor was lost on me: what are blinkers?) I think I am reasonably fine with the actual pole touch (thank you for the correction!), where I flounder is coordinating it with the up and down action in the turn and edge emphasis (again, please excuse inaccurate wording if so it is. I would like to have a routine in my head, similar to when I was just beginning learning parallel turns. Can you maybe think of a good sequence to have in your head to follow? Thanks loads!
 
Blinker = turn signal on a car. Doing your pole plant/touch can be a physical trigger to shift your weight to the outside ski and start doing the other stuff, like starting to "bend zee knees" as one older European instructor advised once. (Please correct me if I'm wrong, instructors.)
 

EdithP

Diva in Training
Gotta love adaptive. I can't help but laugh to myself when someone tells me they can't ski because there knee bothers them a bit.
This thread is so heartening and answers my own anxiety about hip replacement operation I need this summer. While am totally determined to continue skiing as soon as I have recovered, there is lots of conflicting advice - like: if you were an expert, you may continue, but a beginner or low intermediate should best give it up. Then I am not too sure if the operation itself will be done to the state of art standard, this is POland, not Switzerland. But within myself i am absolutely determined to be in top condition before that operation and then do whatever is necessary possible to return to the slopes. In a way, I am really looking forward to skiing without pain, which is going to be a very novel experience :smile:
 

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