Too Old to Be an Olympic Figure Skater? There’s Always Curling

Feb 12, 2014 4:27am
GTY julia lipnitskaia jef 140210 16x9 608 Too Old to Be an Olympic Figure Skater? Theres Always Curling

Russia's Julia Lipnitskaia performs in the Women's Figure Skating Team Free Program at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 9, 2014. (Credit: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images)

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.)

Meet the oldest member of the U.S. Olympic Team.

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.

 

Olympic Discipline Average Age(as of Feb. 6)
Figure Skating 22.27
Skiing – Freestyle 22.69
Ski Jumping 24.14
Snowboarding 24.22
Luge 24.70
Ice Hockey 25.59
Speedskating – Short Track 25.88
Speedskating – Long Track 25.94
Skiing – Alpine 27.00
Skiing – Cross-Country 27.21
Biathlon 27.70
Skeleton 29.60
Bobsled 29.73
Nordic Combined 30.00
Curling 33.90
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