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  1. #1
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    Can a Skater enjoy competition into their 40s?

    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?

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    Quote Originally Posted by olympic View Post
    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?
    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.

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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 . 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 . 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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by essence_of_soy View Post
    The gymnast, Oksana Chusovitina was competing at the elite level as late as 2011 at 36.
    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

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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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFOS View Post
    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? [/url]
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFOS View Post
    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.
    Yuko Kavaguti will be 31 in November and Savchenko will turn 30 right before the Olympics.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny_Fever View Post
    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.
    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 by aliceanne; 07-03-2012 at 12:50 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by julieann View Post
    Yuko Kavaguti will be 31 in November and Savchenko will turn 30 right before the Olympics.
    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.

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

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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

    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.
    You should never write words with numbers. Unless you're seven. Or your name is Prince. - "Weird Al" Yankovic, "Word Crimes"

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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.

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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.

    Quote Originally Posted by RFOS View Post
    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'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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheGirlCanSkate View Post
    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.
    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).

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    Quote Originally Posted by overedge View Post
    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.
    My thoughts as well.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

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