These really aren’t your average seniors
FRISCO – For the better part of 25 years, the Summit County Ambulance Service made an annual stop at the county’s Senior Winter Games. Ambulance staff waited for hours near the competition venue, their vehicle’s engine running, in case one of the elderly competitors should drop. As much as the headstrong seniors themselves, the ambulance presence was a fixture.This year, however, after two and a half decades of waiting in vain, it seems the staff finally learned. They took the 25th anniversary off, putting their faith in so many years of nonaction – a healthy string that proves, better than anything, these really aren’t your average seniors.The 25th annual Senior Games wrapped up on Tuesday with a variety of Nordic-related competitions at the Frisco Nordic Center. The events included distance-varied cross country ski races, a biathlon, a snowball throw and two snowshoe races. They followed Monday’s opening day at Keystone, which featured alpine ski races, figure and speed skating, and a hockey goal shoot. Ninety-one competitors, from 50-somethings to 88-year-old alpine racer Fred Webster, took part.
Tuesday’s atmosphere, as always, was a trick and a treat.”Nothing’s funny here. It’s serious stuff,” Dillon’s Dennis Zimmerman, 62, said, giggling uncontrollably.Fifteen feet away from Zimmerman was the start and finish line for the snowshoe race, which allowed competitors to begin whenever they pleased, just like the rest of the events.”OK,” said one competitor, revving his inner engine, “where do I waddle to?”The snowshoe race featured a long (about half a mile) and a short (.25 miles) course. Both options brought snowshoers adjacent to the biathlon route, which attracted the most competitors of any event on Tuesday, 39.
This was where the action sizzled. Each racer completed two trips around the snow-covered baseball field, stopping at the pump-action rifle station on both loops to fulfill the shooting requirement. For their first round, the elderly racers had to fire their pellets from the “prone” position, on their bellies. This proved easier for some than for others.”For me, getting down and getting back up again is a problem,” said 84-year-old Jim Yohn, a giant slalom specialist from Colorado Springs who crossed over to the flat trails on Tuesday.Despite that difficulty, Yohn still managed to hit all his marks, taking only one extra shot to do it. He completed his second lap and tagged the target twice from the standing position, then slowly glided through the finish line, his ancient stretch ski pants and faded flourescent winter hat catching fewer eyes on this day than they might on others.
Yohn’s time didn’t quite match the blistering 4 minutes, 11 seconds it took 60-year-old Sharon Crawford of Frisco, but Yohn wasn’t worried; his medal was assured. “There’s not very many in my age group,” he said, smiling.Indeed, for better or worse, the prevailing theme for this annual rite of Summit seniordom is age. And even at a stage when adding years can be most depressing, the competitors here don’t view it that way.Told that, at 74, he was competing in the most populated age group of them all (70-74), Breck resident and 1K classic racer Glenn Pine nodded in submission. “I’m afraid it is, unfortunately,” he said. Then his face lit up. “But next year, I’m in the 75’s (75-79). I’m gonna be the young guy in the group next year. That’s the thing about doing these age-group competitions: You don’t mind getting older.”Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 231, or at email@example.com.
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