The torch has been passed to Sochi, Russia. The 2014 Winter Olympics opened on February 7 and will continue until the last event on February 23. Against the backdrop of the majestic Caucasus Mountains, countries from across the globe will be competing for the podium.
The Winter Olympics showcase talented athletes at peak performance. But the true story is the global spectator reach of the games to a world-wide audience. Millions of TV viewers will be glued to their sets. Couch surfing through winter sports abounds though health experts counsel against inactive lifestyles, especially for older and middle-aged adults, who are still able to engage in an easy-going Olympics. Here are some possibilities for an aging population with access to colder climes, the snow, and higher terrain.
It's a low-impact hiking alternative, less expensive than cross-country or downhill skiing, and a sound aerobic work-out with cardio-vascular benefits. Organizers can decide on a snowy path and let older participants compete for medals. On the other hand, athletic contests can be put aside for the outdoor fun of tramping through the snow.
2. Ice Fishing Derby
55+ enthusiasts can join in with experienced ice fishers, after finding a proper hand saw and an expert ice cutter with know-how. Equipment is minimal: a small, light fishing rod with brightly colored lures and bait such as worms or minnows. Fishing derbies are good fun and offer worthwhile competition. Alaska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Vermont, New Hampshire, Ohio, New York and Canada are the major North American ice fishing areas. Participants need proper layered outerwear. Storytelling, jokes and conversation are recommended because ice fishing is a social and recreational event.
The Olympics feature curling as an event. Curling enthusiasts around North America can gear up as if they are Olympians. The United States Curling Association lists 13,000 curlers in the country and more than 135 curling clubs. Amateurs can watch for TV tips from Sochi and get back on the ice to compete in their communities.
4. Senior Hockey
Hockey may be a sport for young men or women with lots of checking and fast bursts of speed up and down the ice, but aging people can play within their limitations. USA Hockey or Hockey Canada can direct you to an appropriate league. Many community centers will provide hockey information and ice time for older players. It's never too late to form a team and play a loose game. Remember. No checking or heavy hitting. Hockey fights are a TV spectacle.
5. Adapted Nordic Skiing, Nordic Walking, and Adapted Downhill Skiing
Keep the fun aspect uppermost for 55+ people. Trails and slopes should be of reasonable difficulty. Forget about the Caucasus Mountains, Whistler, or the French Alps. Realistic ski runs exist near most North American metropolitan areas. Competition can be based on predicted times rather than on best results, wherein winning participants compete against themselves.
6. Adapted Speed Skating
The concept of predicted times holds true for speed skating for 55+. Winners can be those who calculate their finishing time rather than the actual fastest finishers.
Winter sports and recreation are good fun and exercise for older people, although they often like after-activity rewards, too, like good food and drink. Socializing is an important part of winter activities for the 55+ crowd who want to combine good cheer and bonhomie along with outdoor sporting experiences.