Watching 15-year-old figure skater Julia Lipnitskaia lift her foot over her head and spin like a top is pretty magical until it hits you:
You're probably too old to be a figure skater.
"What you want in a figure skater is someone who has relatively thick legs, and someone who has a relatively low center of mass," said Tim Hewett, who directs the Ohio State University Sports Health & Performance Institute. "As you age, you tend to get more mass in your upper body. That is a problem and an issue that has to do with body control and control over your center of mass."
On the United States Olympic team, the average figure skater is 22.26 years old, according to its roster. The youngest is 15-year-old Polina Edmunds, and the oldest is 28-year-old Jeremy Abbott.
On the bright side, there are plenty of Olympic sports for older athletes. The average age for U.S. curlers is 33.9, with the oldest American curler being 45-year-old Ann Swisshelm. (The youngest is 22-year-old Jared Zezel.)
For instance, it's actually better for someone who luges to be heavier, Hewett said. And cross country skiers, curlers and speed skaters actually get better as they get older until well into their 30s.
"I would say if it's a sport that requires lightness and a low center of mass, it's going to be a younger sport, and if it requires more experience, it's going to be older," Hewett said.
Check out the average ages of athletes on the U.S. Olympic team in each sport.
|Skiing - Freestyle||22.69|
|Speedskating - Short Track||25.88|
|Speedskating - Long Track||25.94|
|Skiing - Alpine||27.00|
|Skiing - Cross-Country||27.21|