The 2014 Sochi Olympics may showcase the best winter athletes in the world, alongside a global spectator reach to a world-wide audience, with millions glued to their TVs, the Internet, radio, and print.
But, people don't have to settle for their armchairs when winter sports abound for active adults. Health professionals warn against sedentary lifestyles, especially for mature adults – the 55+ crowd – who can participate in a dialed-down Olympics.
Tony Meriano’s hockey group involves over 100 participants who play three times a week with special rules for seniors, including no body contact or slap shots. “We may not have the energy of NHL 20-year-olds,” said Meriano, “but former Junior A and senior amateur hockey competitors play and enjoy it.”
The Vice President of the Ontario Senior Games Association (OSGA) said it helps participants to maintain active lifestyles – physically, mentally, and socially.
The OSGA staggers its Winter Olympics during opposite years to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Flash back to 2013, when the Ontario organization held its provincial games in Huntsville, a glacially elevated area in a skiing resort two hours north of Toronto. Flash forward to 2015, when the OSGA will hold its games in the Haliburton Highlands, situated in the craggy Canadian Shield.
“The competition is friendly,” said Meriano. “A lot of what we do focuses on pre-game and after-game activities, people meeting up, engaging before and after recreational sporting activities.”
The OSGA winter games are divided into outdoor and indoor events for men and women. Outdoor events include downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, ice hockey, ice skating, and curling. The indoor events: volleyball, 10 Pin Bowling, badminton, table tennis, and duplicate bridge.
Mariano explained that the indoor departure from pure winter sports is the OSGA’s attempt to reach a wide range of abilities and interests for those 55+. “We want people who aren’t necessarily skaters, skiers, hockey players or curlers,” said Mariano. “We seek to engage all seniors for purposes of physical, mental and social wellbeing.”
Let the games begin!