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Learning to Ski at 40, Is It Too Late?

Updated on August 18, 2014

Learning to ski at forty years old, a bit daunting

Somehow I managed to find my self approaching forty before I actually strapped a pair of skis onto my feet and stepped out on what would prove to be very slippery slopes.This was to be the first of my many ski holidays in Europe and I was asking myself am I doing the right thing here, after all I was getting a bit long in the tooth and we had chosen one of the cheapest of cheap ski holidays which was in Bulgaria, they had only just opened up to the west and the safety standards as I was to discover a little later were shall we say, at that time, a little lacking.

On the financial side it was a clear winner the holiday was very affordable and they had not yet cottoned on to how much they could charge us Westerners for the product they were offering, well I say that but they were operating a dual economy where if you were a local you paid one price and if you were a toursist you paid another, but that didn't detract from the fact that I was able to buy the best wine in the best hotel in the place for a fiver ( Great British Pounds that is).

Anyway I digress, this is supposed to be about learning to ski at forty, so I'll get back on the piste so to speak.

I always wanted to ski even when I was a teenager, so at the time I asked my parents if I could go on a school skiing trip. Unfortunately the financial implications (this was where I started to learn life's lesson on managing money) were a bit too high for my parents to manage, I was one of four children and as you can probably guess money was a bit tight.

I tried to go skiing again much later when I was in the Royal Air Force and tried to take up a chance of going on a forces sponsored ski trip, unfortunately I didn't make it again, this time because I had applied to leave 'Her Majesty's Services' and it was decided that I had ruled myself out of this option and was not eligible, someone else who was staying in the air force got that place and to be honest I couldn't really argue with that.

The next time I tried I was in my mid to late thirties but this time I had a medical problem and ended up going into hospital just before my first privately paid skiing holiday after having got a job where I could earn enough cash for me to go skiing. I thought that was the end of my skiing ambitions and that I just wasn't meant to go skiing, I really thought that I should give up on it at that point.

I didn't take into consideration my wife's determination though, she had been skiing on several occasions and was completely hooked on the whole scene. She talked me into having one last try just after my 39th birthday.

Happy days learning how to ski

So what happened next, I took some ski lessons

I was so glad my wife talked me into having one last attempt at skiing because I discovered what an exhilarating and amazing sport it is.

I did nearly kill myself learning to ski, I was not a particularly fit 39 year old or a natural skier (being able to balance helps), learning the basic skills strained quite a few muscles and sinews, even a few I didn't know belonged to me. However gradually by taking skiing lessons, I learned the basic skills and started to negotiate the easy blue runs, then the reds and finally I managed a black run. Not the first year I would hasten to add, but eventually I did and you have to remember, with work commitments, I could only really dedicate 1 week a year to a ski vacation. You would probably be surprised how much of the skiing techniques you have been taught that you actually retain for the following year, it is a little like learning to ride a bike.

I can honestly say that this would not have happened if I had not committed to taking lessons so that you can learn the basic skills, many of the things you do when skiing are a counter intuitive and without expert ski tuition you can pick up some very bad habits that would prevent you mastering steep slopes which are much less forgiving of poor technique.

It is absolutely brilliant when you can master those skills, you get to see some fantastic scenery from the top of a mountain and you can actually throw yourself off and shoot down the slopes at what appears to be incredible speed, not as fast as you see on Ski Sunday and actually not particularly fast at all really. But you don't realize that, from your own perspective you could be in a world downhill challenge and could care less if it is actually a little bit slow. There is something very uplifting about conquering new skills especially when you can use that skill to get some very healthy exercise in an amazing environment, I think they call it living life.

I am very glad I persevered to get past the early set backs and can now enjoy this wonderful sporting activity, so if you think you are too old, have another think, I am now in my 50's and I am still very much enjoying my skiing, which has become one of my favorite pass times, I only regret that I didn't quite make skiing as a teenager, could have been a lot better for much longer.

How I Ski - A Personal Recommendation from the Author

How I Ski: Expert Alpine Skiing Demystified
How I Ski: Expert Alpine Skiing Demystified

This book was personally recommended by the author Ken Chaddock after he read this hub and saw a certain synergy in the way I learned to ski and his own experiences. He has since gone on to become an expert skier and instructor at Whistler Blackcomb, which further demonstrates what you can do with skiing even at a more mature age.


Hope I talked you into taking skiing lessons

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    • profile image

      Avcat 5 years ago

      For my 60th Birthday my Wife decided we should try Nordic Skiing... Then after 4 years of Nordic took an Alpine lesson end of last year, Loved it and now in year 65 finishing my first season as an Alpine Skier and am moving from beginner to Intermediate Runs... Get with it kids, 40's not old!

    • Lgali profile image

      Lgali 8 years ago

      very nice hub always thumbs up

    • lakeerieartists profile image

      Paula Atwell 8 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      Been a while since I skiied but I think my equilibrium was much better before. :)

    • mulberry1 profile image

      Christine Mulberry 8 years ago

      Like you I've considered skiing many times but it never happened for a variety of reasons. It kept getting put off. I'm 50 now, and I think my achy joints will prevent it forever. It does look like the kind of things I would absolutely LOVE!

    • BrianS profile image

      Brian Stephens 8 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

      Hi BristolBoy, yes you are right and much of the enjoyment comes from the environment, so whether it is snowboarding or skiing that is your preference, being on top of that mountain makes either sport worth the effort.

    • BristolBoy profile image

      BristolBoy 8 years ago from Bristol

      A really interesting hub. I would like to go snowboarding sometime, and whilst I should imagine that it is slightly different - this hub shows that there is plenty of time left for me yet!