“It’s never too late for a comeback”
Or is it? Helmut wasn’t so sure. The 63-year-old from Munich braved a new start after a break from skiing of many years. Here he tells us how he got on.
But first, a little bit of background: like many people, Helmut used to go on a ski holiday a couple of times a year and due to the irregular training, no longer felt so comfortable on the two boards. As a guest of many years in the Salzburger Saalachtal, he spent his recent holidays simply winter hiking and going for gentle strolls. Last year he was here again, but this time with his children and grandchildren. While he enjoyed the panoramic views on the circular hike in the Almenwelt Lofer, his family were on the pistes and he was able to watch his grandchildren making their first turns. This was lovely for him, but at the same time the desire grew to be with them and to spend days together as a family on the piste. “But I don’t know if this is perhaps indeed too late?” thought Helmut, cautiously. However, he had also observed other older skiers, who were also possibly returners. He contacted the ski school directly and arranged private lessons for four weeks later – so that he still had time to prepare well. Was the new start successful and how was it? Let’s ask him.
Hello Helmut. Thank you that you have given us some of your time. Tell us why you stopped skiing in the first place?
That was a gradual process. There were one or two years when I didn’t have time for a winter holiday because I had so much on professionally, at that point I already noticed that I was beginning to feel more unsure. Then I had to deal with health issues for a long time and became very anxious about injuries and the risk of those increases with age. And then I discovered that it is also wonderful here, even without skiing.
Then the children made you want to do it again. Was it obvious to you right away that you wanted professional support for your new start?
Yes, absolutely. As I said, I no longer felt safe on the piste the last few times, and perhaps my equipment was also out of date. I definitely needed someone at my side. From my first contact with the ski school, they recommended that I prepare myself physically for the training lessons, and I still had a couple of weeks time.
And how did you use this time at home?
I did exercises specifically aimed at skiing. I generally enjoy exercise, I go walking and cycling a lot. As preparation for skiing I strengthened my muscles with knee bends and squats and as well as this, worked on my balance with various exercises.
Then you returned to the Almenwelt Lofer. Why did you decide on this ski area for your return to skiing?
Because it is ideal for this! Wide, flat pistes, no hustle and bustle and lots of opportunities to have a great time with the family.
How were your first ski lessons?
Skiing actually began in the ski hire, where I was able to hire suitable equipment. A great deal has changed since the last time I stood on skis. Equipped with carving skis and relatively light ski boots, I met my ski instructor. After a few warm-up exercises, we clicked into our skis and then began to ski tentatively.
How did it feel?
Honestly? At first, I was quite shaky standing on the skis. The equipment was unfamiliar to me and I still didn’t feel quite safe. That’s why it was very good to be accompanied by a ski instructor. Various movement exercises distracted me from my thoughts and after a while I noticed that I was hardly thinking about it any more and the confidence came back. It also helped to ski in the tracks of the instructor and be able to concentrate totally on the movements.
Which exercises were the most difficult for you? And how was it for you physically?
The most difficult thing was basically anything connected with balance and reaction. I noticed here that this was simply more difficult with age. Also it was challenging to learn new movements. The advantage of skiing a lot in the past was that you remember it.
Physically I had a lot to deal with. In the evenings at least I certainly could feel all of my muscles. On the piste, it certainly helped to take a lot of breaks and not to overdo it at the beginning. And in that way I also felt like I was reducing the risk of injury.
And what was the most fun?
Skiing. To notice how I became much more relaxed with time and could enjoy the views of the snowy mountains. For me, the freedom of skiing cannot be compared to anything else. You stand up on the summit, look at the perfectly-prepared pistes and feel simply free. And so full of life! Lunch in the ski hut with my family tasted particularly special. After all, I had really earned it.
Finally, how would you sum it up? What advice would you give to other new starters?
I would absolutely recommend professional support. I needed 3 two-hour private lessons until I was far enough along to ski the pistes alone or with the family. It is also important to have sufficient physical fitness. And my summary? It is never too late for a comeback! I am very happy and proud to have taken this step and this year I am looking forward to hitting the pistes with my grandchildren – but with a lot of breaks!
We thank you kindly for the conversation and wish you a lot of fun skiing again.