As middle-age recedes alarmingly quickly behind me, the recent snowy weather and the Vancouver Winter Olympics seem to have re-kindled my enthusiasm for winter sports, writes Finlay Buchanan I have to confess that my skiing career was short-lived; lying face-down in the slush at Aviemore quickly lost its appeal. Curling lasted longer, until I ended up in A&E with a right leg that wouldn’t straighten up – and finding out that “nasty curling injury” resulted in more amusement than sympathy! However, when the snow falls I can still dig out my trusty sledge – or should I call it my one-man skeleton bob? – and head for the hills. Watching the exploits of the Winter Olympic athletes on late-night TV, I began to wonder if it was too late to consider a comeback. As someone who can’t tell his wu-tang from his mogul, I felt that Freestyle Skiing was best left to the younger generation. Maybe a return to curling might be possible … My first port of call was the Vancouver Games website, where I downloaded the age details of the 173 athletes who had registered for Freestyle skiing events (Aerials, Moguls and Ski cross), and the 100 Curlers who are competing. So much for my ageist assumptions! Okay, Curlers (average age 31) are typically older that Freestyle Skiers (average age 26) – but only by five years. The age ranges are similar too – Skiers are between 15 and 43 years old; curlers between 17 and 47. The main difference is in the profile of ages – there’s an interesting ‘blip’ in the number of curlers who reach their peak in their late 30s. Looking further back, the oldest competitor in Winter Olympics was 54-year-old Scott Baird who represented USA in curling at the 2006 Turin games. The oldest individual Gold medal winner was Duff Gibson of Canada, who won the skeleton event also in Turin at 39 years of age. And – one for all you pub quiz enthusiasts! – the oldest man to receive a Winter Olympics medal was 83-year-old Anders Haugen. The Norwegian-American actually received his ski jump bronze medal 50 years after he competed in 1924 when a scoring error was discovered in 1974. So there’s hope for me yet, if I can find my old curling brush in the loft. See you in Sochi, 2014!
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