Who are older snowboarders?

Snowboarding skews young, but people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s–and even 90s–enjoy the sport.

Sometimes, they get the attention of the youngsters. They even arouse some envy, as in “I hope I will be able to do that in a few decades.”

Among the older riders you will find among professionals, parents, and, with time, perhaps yourself as well. Here are a few examples of “gray” riders. The ages give are those of the person when he or she was entered into the list or mentioned in the relevant publication. A few people were not mentioned in public forums, but explicitly gave permission to the editor of this site.

Older Snowboarders are Professionals

  • Jose Amaya is a 43-year old construction manager.
  • John Barylick, 56, is an attorney.
  • Chris Barker, 56, is a physician.
  • Wayne Braid (age not given) is a notary public, member of a local Rotary club, and a snowboarder.
  • Andrew E. Caputo, 39, is an orthopedist and hand specialist.
  • Biff Wayne Clark, an executive for a leading pharmaceutical company, began snowboarding in his mid-30s. One of his snowboarding dreams: a trip down the French alps.
  • Eric E. Coris, M.D. (age unknown), is associate professor in the departments of Family Medicine and Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, and director of the Division of Primary Care Sports Medicine at the University of South Florida. Dr. Coris calls himself “a very bad snowboarder” and “slightly better downhill skier.”
  • Barry Drake is a 37 year old accountant.
  • The Rev Neil Elliot, age 40, is a chaplain at University Central England. He is a rider, and working on a Ph.D. in sociology. His subject? “The Spirituality of Snowboarding.” Says he: “‘I knew for me snowboarding is one of the best ways to connect with God.”
  • Tim Geithner, age 47, is the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.
  • Lee Hieb, in her mid-to-late 50s, is an orthopaedic surgeon.
  • Don Kellam, an executive at a Texas-based investment firm, took up snowboarding at age 36.
  • Alex Kozinski is a 45-year old judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Davis Love III is a PGA Tour champion who likes to snowboard in Idaho.
  • Stephen J. Luczo, 58, is the chairman of the board of Seagate, and the company’s former president.
  • Kevin Mahaney, a 43-year old real estate developer.
  • Sean Moyle is a middle-school principal.
  • Susan Maurice, 43, teaches science at a middle school.
  • Lester Priday, 53, is a real estate agent. He’s well known within snowboarding and surfing circles.
  • Dan Quin, 41, is a math teacher. He says “The students don’t think I snowboard.”
  • John Robinson, 65, is an anesthesiologist who once heard some youngsters say “Grandpas don’t snowboard.” But they do now!
  • Gabriel Rubanenko is a 48-year old orthopedic surgeon who once pointed out the advantage of riding while older: “I feel the same as I did when I was 25 — except I have more money.”[Good for him! Riding does take some cash for boards, clothing, lift tickets, etc.]
  • Doug Taylor, 53, is an attorney who has been snowboarding since he was 41.
  • Dan Ulfig, 53, the owner of a commercial flooring company, took up riding in his 40s. Today he is a regular competitor in freestyle (trick) events.
  • Doug Wilson, (age unknown), is a Ph.D. who has taught business at the University of Southern California. He is the CEO of an investment firm and has experience as a business consultant.

They’re Also Snowboard Instructors and Industry Leaders

    • Jim Brennan is a former ski jumper who took up snowboarding at age 54. That was in 1994. Of “grays on trays,” he says “I love the term. I think it’s the ultimate compliment. If we keep active, we can contribute to the participation. Everybody’s gaining from it. Besides, most of the grays dye their hair anyway.”
    • Charlie Clarke, 39, has been working in the snowsports school in Vail for 15 years.
    • Brian Fairbank, 64, is the chief snowboard instructor at Jiminy Peak, Maine. He started riding in his 50s.
    • Frank Helm, 64, started riding in 1992 because so many of the customers at his resort, Dodge Ridge, were snowboarders. “It’s a great way to learn another way of sliding down the snow,” he says.
    • Bob Hohne, 48, is the Dodge Ridge CFO. He says of snowboarding, “It’s a lot of fun. If I can do it, anybody can.”
    • John Ingersoll, a snowboard director at Mt. Bachelor, was a lifelong skier who started on a board at age 35, in 1989. He says that “I thought I’d died and gone to heaven,” when he tried snowboarding. “It was such a good feeling. I was able to hold my edge through a GS (giant slalom) turn. I wasn’t skilled enough to hold an edge through a whole turn on skis. I like riding a snowboard better than skiing. It’s easier … more fun. And I think it’s easier on the knees.”
    • Paula Li started teaching at Bear Valley Mountain Resort when she was 50.
    • Mary McKhann, the managing editor of The Snow Industry Letter, has been riding for over a decade. She started sometime in her 50s.
    • Bernard T. Milligan, 63, a snowboard instructor who took up the sport at age 60.
    • In 2001, Pat O’Donnell was 62 and president of the Aspen Ski Company when Ajax mountain was opened to snowboarders. The New York Times described him as an “an enthusiastic snowboarder.”
    • Pat Moore, age 62 is the director of online sales for Suburban Sport, a shop in Connecticut. He is also a NASTAR competitor, having won national events in his age group in both snowboarding and skiing.
    • Doug Pfeiffer, 78, is a snowboard instructor from Big Bear, California.
    • Chickie Rosenberg, who started snowboarding in her 50s, was a pioneer among women snowboarders. Thanks to her books and teaching (certified level II instructor), she was well known at the time of her death in 2013.
    • Tim Silva, 53, is a general manager at Northstar-at-Tahoe.
    • Wendy Woodward, 46, owns two snowboard shops in California.

They’re parents who enjoy riding with their children

In the words of USA Today, “Once almost exclusively the domain of young males, [snowboarding is] drawing women, children and even grandparents.”

  • Michael Berry, 52, is president of the National Ski Areas Association. He started riding to spend time with his 12-year old son.
  • A New York Times article featured the following riders: Bobby Diamon, 49, who rides with his 16 year old son); Billy Kelly, 56; and Karen Casey, 56, who rides with her 13 year old son.
  • Heather Jones began snowboarding at age 46, ten years after her daughter took up the sport at age 19. Says she: “I was a downhill skier for 30 years, but after learning to snowboard, I haven’t touched my skis since.”
  • Terri Kirkwood, 44, of Jackson Hole, WY (lucky her!) switched from skis to a snowboard at age 36, to keep up with her children.
  • Al Lachance, 75, took up riding at the age of 67. He had never been a skier, but he turned to riding as a way to enjoy the mountains with his grown-up daughter, who stayed on her skis.
  • Robin Oz, a self-described “middle-aged mother of four,” dropped into the halfpipe at age 46.
  • Nancy Salie, 50, says “The one thing that I’m finding with snowboarding is that it’s not just for young people. I enjoy it because it’s something new and I’m learning to keep up with my daughter rather than have her keep up with me.”
  • A Minneapolis-based group of 30 women call themselves SnowBroads. Many are 50 or older.
  • George “Banana” Blair started snowboarding at age 75.
  • Mike Fine was a skier for 30 years before concluding that riding would be better for his health: “As I get older, my joints get sorer, and having undergone knee surgery in October, the thought of one of my Rossis [skis] going right and the other going left, and my binding possibly not releasing as I fly off a bump is downright frightening.”
  • Suzanne Noli, 45, traded skis for a board at age 40.
  • Jill Osias, 60, is a grandmother who learned from Chickie Rosenberg.
  • Jane Ann Pease, 76, started riding at age 66. Today, she is a member of the ski patrol.
  • Tim Price learned how to ride at 59. He says that snowboarding “seems to be more of a youthful sport, and that’s a shame, because it really is a lot of fun.”
  • Julian Vogt started snowboarding at age 78. Now he’s 93. Of his early lessons he says “I almost quit because I fell down so much. But then one day I had about 5 inches of powder and it was so easy.”
  • James Zurcher, 71, is a retired police chief, says “I watched those young guys on the hill. They were so graceful, so in control. I said, ‘I’ve got to try that.”

A few more testimonials

You can visit our page on Facebook, from which we’ve drawn a few words.

I am a month away from my 67th birthday and just got back from a week of snowboarding with my son. We were in Telluride. I hope to be doing this when I am 100 !!! — Cathy

Just taken up snowboarding at 50 something after 25 years of skiing… why didn’t I do this years ago? — Susie

I’m 75 and spent yesterday riding on Sun Valley’s Bald Mountain.  — Tom

Switched when I was 38 because the knees couldn’t take skiing anymore. Wish I hadn’t waited so long! — Lisa

60 year old boarder here..Love boarding..had a knee replacement and boarded 6 months after.. life is good!!!! — Ruth

You have to meet my hero, Dick Cole. He made the podium at the NASTAR Nationals in both skiing and boarding. He turns 79 next month. And he rides a hard boot board! — Pat

I had to figure out a way to stop hating winter. Took it up at age 44. — Gerry

I got into snowboarding when I first went to High Cascade Snowboard Camp in 2008….at the age of 52. Got interested by watching the Olympics. — Lee

10 Responses to Who are older snowboarders?

  1. mark mcconnell says:

    Love this website, wish we had something equivalent in Australia. I’m over 40 and have been riding for 18 years and would love to establish a friendly SBX and Slalom association for mature boarders but can’t seem to find many interested, advice welcome??

  2. John LaPlante says:

    Mark, thanks for the kind words. I’m not sure how to help you find other riders in Australia.

  3. lance says:

    Great site and thanks for administering this! I hope to be more active on it now that I’ve found this. This idea became very real to me when I started getting pain in my knee after riding in Vail for a few days. I don’t plan on giving this sport up — and — hope to find others who feel the same.

  4. Chris Norman says:

    I’m 64 have had four cartilage operations on my left knee and a snapped medial ligament on my right but have been boarding for fifteen years now and hope to go on a bit longer.

  5. KDB says:

    Thanks for this website! I had skied only twice over twenty years ago before I decided to take a snowboarding lesson with my two young sons at 46 years old instead of relearning how to ski. My kids moved on to ski, but I am now snowboarding with them. You don’t need to be an athlete or in the business. I am an accidental snowboarder. Padding my hip was critical to go through the first two days of painful lessons, and after that I was taken to do green and intermediate runs. I am working on improving my speed and going straight faster, but overall I am enjoying snowboarding more than skiing.

  6. Linda Huang says:

    I learned snowboard at my 52; now I start to improve my ride, trying jump and boxing and crazy speed.

  7. Rob says:

    Thanks so much for this website. I started with lessons about 5 years ago (now almost 54), and loving it. Not much beats carving down the mountain on a bright sunny day (nighttime comes pretty close, though). However, for the past few years I’ve been second guessing myself with thoughts like “Who am I kidding?”, “Uh, think it’s time to grow up?”, and I’m waiting for the “Grandpas don’t ride” comments (but fortunately haven’t heard them yet).

    I was riding a gondola a few years ago with a group probably 20 years younger talking about their “endeavors” the night before. Yup, I was feeling out of place. This year, I’m spotting more “older” (as in 30s or 40s) on boards, but not many. Oh well. I bought a “rest of season” pass yesterday so I’m in it at least until the end of this year ;-). Like other comments, “Why didn’t I start doing this years ago?”
    Anyways, thanks so much for the inspirational stories. Even if I’m alone here in Massachusetts, I’ll know that you’re out there somewhere cheering me on.
    BTW, love the phrase!

  8. Rev Bud Hill says:

    My name is Charles Arthur Hill, nickname is Bud. I started snowboarding in 2003 at the age of 60. I have 16 seasons snowboarding with over 1,000 days or more on the mountain. Most of it in Summit County, Colorado, but also many other places to include Washington state, Idaho, British Columbia, New York state, etc. I ride at an expert level and can still throw it down.

    In Summit County I am known as that nearly ol’ preacher dude. I assume that at 75 years of age and still riding hard that there are not many at my age and level who can.

    This season of 2018/2019 l will be riding at Anthony Lakes, Oregon, or Mt. Baker, Washington. I also have ridden at Mt Hood as well. Drop me a line if you are riding at 70 plus so l know l not alone Grey Rider throwing it down. Peace out. The Bud Man.

  9. KL says:

    I’ve been learning to ski for 4-5 years but my son and husband board…I’ve promised to try this year…wish me luck! We ride volcanoes in NZ #Turoa

  10. Lien G says:

    Does anyone know of any “grey” groups that plan snowboarding trips together? I’m 48 and have snowboarded about 3 yrs and would like to find a friendly “grey” group to go together.

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