Last year, at a Canada Cup race in Calgary, somebody pointed out to me that I was the second oldest person in the Open Men category. The startling part is that I was, at that point, 26 years old! â€œHow could this be?â€, I thought. â€œI don’t even have gray hair or a beer belly yetâ€.
Then I wondered where all the skiers older than myself went. It is kind of sad, if you think about it; in a sport where the average age of a World Cup winner is something like 29, we in Canada have only a handful of people over even age 25 that still compete in elite-level racing. I, at least, never heard of any pension plans for skiers called Freedom Twenty-Five.
Naturally, the next question is what led to this sorry state of affairs? No doubt, the answer is complicated. Some explanations might include that people simply tend to move on to other things by age 25, such as school, work, or partying really hard to make up for all the years when you were a â€œskier dorkâ€. But if you break it down, it would appear that the real answer is that ski racing is simply not an attractive enough option for the bulk of people in this age bracket. There is very little support available in terms of both coaching and money to the over 25 athlete. ( I use â€œover 25â€ loosely. I mean anyone who is basically at the age where you might normally think about starting a â€œserious careerâ€). For sure, the National Team program is terrific, as are the Development Centres. As we all know, there is only so much room on the National Team, and the Development Centres, quite rightly, focus on older juniors and younger seniors. What is more, by age 25, the Bank of Mom and Dad becomes a much less appealing and/or accessible option.