October 30, 2015 6:12 AM   Subscribe

Henry Bendinelli has been skiing for 70-some years. A short docu by filmmaker Riley Hooper, about a 91 year old guy.
posted by growabrain (7 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
and yes, he died, you know, but that's not the point
posted by growabrain at 6:43 AM on October 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

So, I'm a doctor and I have a lot of dumb hokey lines that are useful in various contexts. There's this one type of guy I see all the time, the 50 something year old who hasn't seen a doc since he was 18 except that one time he almost sliced his thumb off and needed stitches. Anyway, he schedules an appointment for a check up for the first time in his life because he heard somewhere he should get his prostate checked or something. And he really doesn't want to take any pills, doesn't want to hear about the 30-plus years of preventive medicine he missed, or the shots he should get, and he certainly doesn't want no camera shoved up his ass. And by the time I've run through his medical history and done my exam and made sure there isn't some obvious impending health disaster looming, I have like maybe 3 minutes to deliver some high impact words of wisdom or advice before we send him out for another ten years when he comes back with his first heart attack. I'm sure I've written this previously on Metafilter:

"So Mr. Jones, it's been nice to meet you and I'm glad you came in today. Things look pretty good right now, so that's good news. When I see someone like you and I'm thinking about how guys live the second halves of their lives, I'm always astounded by the range of happiness and quality of life I see. I have patients in their 60s who live in nursing homes and are miserable and I have patients in their 80s who travel the world and ski all winter. The only thing I can say is that the 80 year old skiers made the conscious decision to stay as physically active as they could. No one lives forever and no one lives a perfectly healthy life, but I really sincerely hope you get to be an 80 year old skier. Don't be a stranger."
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:47 AM on October 30, 2015 [11 favorites]

So great. And inspiring, in that I want to be having as much fun at 90 as this gentleman was having. And, no accident that he was as articulate and smart and fit at ninety.

In addition, if I am still skiing at ninety, that would be 80 some years of skiing, which would make up for the lost time before age eight.
posted by bumpkin at 8:38 AM on October 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

My dad skied well into his 80s. Was told one day, buying his lift ticket, that he was the oldest guy on the mountain that day.
posted by Windopaene at 8:52 AM on October 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thought 1: Watch The Wise Man (5 min) if you want to see an 89 year old man ski better than you do. I worked on the marketing of that film (shot by the amazing Sherpas Cinema) and still get shivers down my spine every time I see it.

Thought 2: Skiing is the only physically demanding sport I can think of where three generations can participate together at the same time. It's a pretty common fact in the ski industry. Two years ago I got to ski at Lake Louise with my 63 year old father and my 4 year old son. How amazing is that?

Thought 3: A few years after moving to Banff I was sharing a Valentine's day ride on a chairlift with a guy in a one-piece and a cowboy hat, his name was Trapper Jerry and when I asked him what his story was he told me that he was from Saskatchewan and had been coming to Banff every year since the sixties to ski. On that day he was 94 years old and was still doing Delirium Dive once a year (with a team of patrollers walking on eggshells around him). Last I heard he was still alive but his eyesight had gotten so bad that he had to give up skiing.

Thought 4: Two years ago I was doing marketing for the ski resorts in Banff and we have a large niche of older British skiers that visit every year. When I started to kick off our marketing campaigns in September I got three separate emails from people who were in their 60-80s and who had been skiing up until the last year but couldn't anymore because their knees/hips had given out. I felt so bad taking them off our email lists.

Thought 5: Babyboomers as a demographic in the ski industry will be all but gone in less than ten years. Sure there will still be lots of exceptional stories like the ones above, but as a segment (and the largest one at that) they're starting to hang up their skis in greater numbers each year. It's said that the industry would have to grow 5% a year for the next ten years to make up for the loss of the boomer demographic. What will happen to the hills when they disappear?

Thought 6: Skiing is kind of like riding a bike, except that older people tend to only do it once a year. A dirty secret amongst the ski patrollers here: each year our local resorts deal with 1-5 deaths by heart attack, people don't exercise all year long and then hit the slopes during spring break thinking they'll be as good as they were last year.

Final thought: Eddie Hunter (the subject of the video in the first link) used to ski to the ski hill from town as a kid (it's now a 15 minute drive with considerable switchbacks), and he's the guy ski jumping in the still shot in the video. He roller-skied at our latest Terry Fox run and I still see him roller-skiing up the switchbacks to Mt. Norquay.
posted by furtive at 11:29 AM on October 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

Hah. This is going to be my Dad, eventually. Hustled and ran his own tours so the family could afford to ski, and taught us in our front yard on a hill made of a picnic table and discarded Christmas trees as soon as we could stand. I was a gate in that same human slalom more times than I can count. Also: murderball.
He's in his 70's now, and he's probably going to die on the hill one day, even though he keeps himself in good shape now. I don't think he'd be at all upset about it.
posted by Kreiger at 12:15 PM on October 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

This isn't even the greatest oldest man playing winter sports. I'm quite taken by the 94 year old ice hockey player in MN profiled on CBS This Morning.

CBS This Morning 94 Yr Old Ice Hockey Player (slyt)

Best bit - how he snookered his club to pay his ice fees for "lifetime" about 14 years earlier, at 80.

My father-in-law was one of those guys sent to the Swiss Alps to recuperate from TB, he had actual seal-skins and walked up in the days before chair lifts. A winter of that turned him into a very very good skier. Narrowly missed skiing for Britain, but once he due to be next on a run after a fatal racing accident he decided to hang it up the racing.

55 years later, he was caught by his daughter trying out some black runs after his second hip replacement. A big grin, and he said not to tell his surgeon (he himself was a doctor).
posted by C.A.S. at 4:02 AM on October 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

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