Can a Skater enjoy competition into their 40s?

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by olympic, Jul 2, 2012.

  1. olympic

    olympic Well-Known Member

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    I was watching Dara Torres compete with teen-agers an 20-somethings at the Olympic Trials in swimming. No doubt, swimming is a grueling sport but she keeps up with them.

    Could a figure skater in their 40s conceivably keep up with teen phenoms and 20-somethings in competitive olympic or world figure skating competitions? Obviously, greater attention would need to be paid attention to rest periods, injury avoidance, nutrition, etc. But, could it be done?
     
  2. Zemgirl

    Zemgirl Well-Known Member

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    Back when figures played a large part in the outcome, maybe. For instance, according to Wikipedia, Gillis Grafström was 38 when he won his final Olympic medal.

    But I think with the technical demands skaters face now, it would be very difficult in singles skating, though maybe doable in pairs or dance. Hongbo Zhao was 36 when he and Xue Shen (then 31) won their OGM, and if they'd skated this past season, they probably could have been competitive. Who knows? Robin Szolkowy won't retire at 40, but IIRC he was the oldest skater at this year's Worlds and will likely be the oldest one in Sochi.

    Still, considering how young skaters are when they start training and the potential for injuries (certainly more than in swimming) I imagine we won't be seeing skating's version of Dara Torres any time soon.
     
  3. FunnyBut

    FunnyBut Well-Known Member

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    I doubt we'll see figure skaters contend for medals in their forties. Maybe a skater would qualify and compete (sort of like Witt in Lillehammer and she wasn't anywhere near 40), but more for the joy of competing than for a medal. And maybe we'll see more applications for citizenship to countries like Azerbejian by skating's elder statesmen :lol:. Not to belittle Dara Torres, because I think she's extraordinary, but skating like gymnastics is more a younger person's spot, joints and hips just don't last that long. Perhaps an ice dancer could last into the forties, probably not the other 3 disciplines.

    Hongbao Zhao is truly an anomaly having trained in austere conditions, being the cornerstone of his coach's great ambition, skating on a reconstructed heel :eek: . The level of motivation ,discipline, pain tolerance is unfathomable to me. I remember and interview with him and Shue where they prided themselves on their ability to 'eat bitter' . I doubt we'll see that level of sheer will and determination again, most competitors would have called it a good career long before that.
     
  4. misskarne

    misskarne Spirit. Focus. Ability. Tenacity. Aussie Grit.

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    Please don't go giving Plushy any ideas...he might see that as a challenge! :lol:

    I think with the jump demands especially these days it would be very difficult. The body just wouldn't last.
     
  5. essence_of_soy

    essence_of_soy Well-Known Member

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    The gymnast, Oksana Chusovitina was competing at the elite level as late as 2011 at 36.

    She won silver in vault at the World Championships last year, and even came back to the sport after having a baby.

    I believe Jayne Torvill was 36 in Lillihammer.

    However, with the technical level (and the potential for injury) increasing all the time, it is rare for skaters to acquire new skills past their twenties, let alone maintaining them.
     
  6. julieann

    julieann Well-Known Member

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    You can't really compare swimming to skating, swimming is a no-impact sport. That is the first exercise doctors will prescribe to get you back into shape.

    Shen and Zhao also took considerable time off before returning to competition and I have a feeling they took a good look at the 2009 World podium and felt they had a really good shot a gold or they wouldn't have bothered coming back.
     
  7. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

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    Swimmers and track stars who compete in their 40's usually only compete in one event, unlike their younger teammates who can recover more quickly. Even then they are rare. If skaters could elect to do just rhe short program someone might be able to do it.
     
  8. berthesghost

    berthesghost Well-Known Member

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    Skating is a judged sport, and we see skaters judged as "too old" on a regular basis. Can they still win at 40? Possibly. Will they still win? Probably not.
     
  9. RFOS

    RFOS Well-Known Member

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    She just turned 37 and was recently named to the German Olympic team for London. http://www.thecouchgymnast.com/?p=6839

    Along with Jayne Torvill, Nozomi Watanabe is another female ice dancer who competed at the world level at the age of 36 (though Jayne was slightly older in Lillehammer). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nozomi_Watanabe

    Miriam Manzano from Australia competed at the 2006 Worlds shortly after she turned 31. Does anyone know of any female singles (or pairs) skaters who were older when competing at that level? Fumie Suguri is older than that now and may compete in the coming season but I don't know if she'll get any international assignments.

    I read that Vern Taylor (the first skater to land a ratified triple axel in 1978) made a comeback at 1994 Canadian Nationals, but haven't found any info about that. I only read about it in a Youtube comment, and saw an archived news article that said he had reinstated. The commentators mention in this video (at around 4:30) that he had turned 20 the previous week, so he would've been nearly 36 at Canadians in 1994. Does anyone have any info on his placement or performance at Canadians that year? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UilAARymnSs
     
  10. Johnny_Fever

    Johnny_Fever New Member

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    There's more longevity in ice dance than free skating. It may not be worth anyone's while to keep competing for that long. If there was money involved, it might be different.

    I was rooting for that swimmer. I guess she's still in the running? It doesn't matter to me whether she competes in one event or many. I've never understood this obsession with multiple events anyway.
     
  11. essence_of_soy

    essence_of_soy Well-Known Member

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    I saw both Miriam skate at the 2006 World Championships in Calgary and Vern skate at the 1994 Canadian Championships in Edmonton live.

    Though Manzano had skated very well at the National championships, on that basis, she should easily have made the cut at Worlds. However, she only attempted one triple (a toe loop), fell several times, and had trouble even with the double axel.

    Vern Taylor didn't land anything more difficult than the triple salchow. He did get a rousing ovation from the knowledgeable audience, however. I think he placed closed to last of the 15 or so men in the event.

    Anyway, it was a pleasure to see him skate, as it had been, seeing Elaine Zayak skate the previous week at US Nationals in Detroit.
     
  12. julieann

    julieann Well-Known Member

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    Yuko Kavaguti will be 31 in November and Savchenko will turn 30 right before the Olympics.
     
  13. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

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    It is a test of your endurance just like being able to successfully skate both the short and the long program is in skating. Plus the athletes who are the best in one event are often the best in similar events.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2012
  14. RFOS

    RFOS Well-Known Member

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    Thanks. I also forgot the obvious example of Inoue & Baldwin, who were 33 and 36 at their last U.S. Nationals in 2010. Hongbo Zhao was slightly older than John when he competed at the Vancouver Olympics.
     
  15. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    Calla Urbanski was 33 when she competed at 1994 US Nationals with Joseph Mero.
     
  16. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    My first thought on looking at the title was that skaters might be able to compete at elite levels in their 40s, but they probably wouldn't enjoy it much :lol:

    But that being said, there are lots of skaters age 40 and older who compete in adult events and have a great time. They may not be landing triples, or even doubles, or doing spins with their foot held over their head, but they're out there competing nonetheless.
     
  17. TheGirlCanSkate

    TheGirlCanSkate New Member

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    I was surprised most principal ballerinas are in their late 20's, mid 30's. I think of ballet and skating as being similarly hard on bodies. So i do wonder why skaters don't last as long. I am thinking it must come down to costs and support.
     
  18. Zemgirl

    Zemgirl Well-Known Member

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    ^ I think skating may be even more punishing on the body than ballet because there's more jumping involved and landing (and doing other stuff) on blades can't be too good for one's body over time.

    I've already mentioned Xue Shen; in addition, Pang and Tong are both 32 (born in 1979). Maria Butyrskaya ended her competitive career a few months before her 30th birthday.
     
  19. AndyWarhol

    AndyWarhol Well-Known Member

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    There is probably more opportunity to earn money with ballet.. even though they dont get a great wage, its different to skaters who just pay out money, with no financial return (apart from the lucky few that get shows.. but that isn't the majority).
     
  20. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Well-Known Member

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    My thoughts as well. :)
     
  21. Johnny_Fever

    Johnny_Fever New Member

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    In skating the short and long program are, in essence, both part of the same event. The scores are combined to get the final score.

    I can see why swimmers might want to accumulate multiple medals. In my book, one gold in skating is worth 50 golds in swimming.
     
  22. umronnie

    umronnie Active Member

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    I always root for the veterans - even if I didn't like them when they were young/in their prime. There's something inspiring about someone who'd done all that already and keeps going, whether for the love of the sport, the competition or to challenge onself.

    I cheered for Dara Torres. I cheered like mad (in front of my computer) for 38 year old decathlete Roman Sebrle last week in Helsinki. I loved it that almost-30 Kevin VDP had a great competition in Nice.

    Of the athletes mentioned above, I belive 37-yo Chusovitina won a medal at this year's Euros. Butyrskaya won her world title at age 26 and her last Euro title at almost-30.

    Todd Eldredge won a medal at worlds at 29-1/2. I think that's the oldest for a single skater in post-figures skating. Stojko was 28 when he won the silver in 2000.

    I think that the wear-and-tear of modern skating will not allow someone to still be competitive in their 40s. Today's skating requires triples (for all) and quads (for men) and just practicing them puts a huge toll on skaters' bodies. It is no wonder Plushy is glued together many times over.

    It used to be that pairs and dance were easier on the body (I said easi-er, not easy), but I think the contortions and variations erequired by CoP are atking their toll on them, as well. Note how many pair/dancers have been waylaid by injuries in the past few years.

    Maybe on a national level someone could go on (and win titles) to their 40s, but not in international competition.
     
  23. Willowway

    Willowway Well-Known Member

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    I have been very fortunate over many years to be able to see various elite eligible skaters practice and train with their coaches. Setting ice dance aside, the beating that triples and especially quads deliver to the body is amazing.

    It doesn't show as much in competition/performance because that's when the skater does his or her ultimate best to make it look easy and flowing; we're seeing the finished product, not the daily pounding it takes to get there. The torque, the force all going into the landing on a single blade edge takes a huge toll on backs, hips, etc. That's not even counting the number of falls and failed jumps it takes in practice to achieve the hardest jumps - every day!

    This also goes for the force that throw jumps have on ladies skating pairs. The first time I saw up close Elena B. practicing throw triples with Anton I was stunned at how much force and energy her body had to absorb on each landing and how much abuse it took on each failed attempt when she fell - and it's over and over and over.

    Most elite skating is a very high impact sport.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2012
  24. spikydurian

    spikydurian Well-Known Member

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    ^^^ Remembered Kristy Krall telling a reporter that the impact of a quad is like a huge fridge falling on you!:yikes: Don't know how Iron Man Plushenko managed to survive his quads all these years.
    We can have veteran (for those over 40) competitions so that for those who enjoy and still can figure skate with a few tricks and moves, can continue to do so. If they can have juniors, why not veterans? :p
     
  25. Rogue

    Rogue Sexy Superhero

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    They used to have this - they were called professional competitions, but it was really all about the veterans until they ruined the circuit by allowing so many pro-ams. I really wish professional (or veteran) competitions would be revived.
     
  26. blue_idealist

    blue_idealist Well-Known Member

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    Petrova/Tikhonov competed into their thirties. I think Alexei was 36 when they retired. Maybe 35.
     
  27. Sylvia

    Sylvia Bring on the JGP & Sr B comps!

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    Case in point: http://www.fsuniverse.net/forum/showthread.php?t=83794
     
  28. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    The Protopopovs were in their thirties when they won their first OGM. After 2 OGMs they continued to skate well into their 60's or 70's. Although they were not competing then, they did compete in the pros when Ludmilla was 47 and Oleg was 51.

    However, in the eligible ranks it will be tough to compete when someone is over 40.
     
  29. ioana

    ioana Well-Known Member

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    To be fair to Miriam, that was the year she took her case for being on the Olympic team in 2006 to court -and ended up losing. I got the sense she never really got over that and even though she probably had the best of intentions for 2006 Worlds, she didn't skate well at all. I find it hard to believe losing the 3lutz and 3loop she was still landing in 2005 at 4CC was due to aging one year. In her case, psychology was more of a factor...

    http://www.isuresults.com/results/fc2006/fc06_Ladies_FS_scores.pdf
     
  30. AndyWarhol

    AndyWarhol Well-Known Member

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    Would she have done better than Joanne Cater who didn't make it past the SP?