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Seniors Alpine Ski Club

The winter season is well underway at one of Calgary's longest running club for seniors. Founded in 1977 and originally named The Over the Hill Gang, the Seniors' Alpine Ski Club was first incorporated in 1993, and now boasts almost 400 members.
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The winter season is well underway at one of Calgary's longest running club for seniors.

Founded in 1977 and originally named The Over the Hill Gang, the Seniors' Alpine Ski Club was first incorporated in 1993, and now boasts almost 400 members.

Originally club members included skiers from Edmonton as well as Calgary but as it grew, this became too unwieldy and the Edmonton Club spun off on its own.

Margaret Dunphy who's in charge of membership for the club, says there are many reasons why people aged 55 and over like to join forces with like-minded alpine lovers.

"Often as people get older they may have lost friends or a spouse and might no longer have someone to ski with," she explained. "Also, I don't like driving on the highways in winter anymore because it can be hazardous, so I like that we carpool."

For further away trips, the group hires a bus.

For a modest $20 per year, the club offers affordable ski tours, access to ski improvement programs, and summer activities such as a golf tournament, dances and an annual barbecue. Every Wednesday the group traditionally meets at Nakiska for a weekly ski day, topped off with some aprÈs ski social time.

Though the majority of the members are downhill ski buffs, Dunphy said there are also a handful of cross country skiers and even some snow shoe enthusiasts who come along for the ride.

"We are really a downhill ski club," she said. "But if someone's partner perhaps has arthritis they might snowshoe around the trails instead. It's just all about getting out there and having some fun."

She added the average age of the club's membership is approximately 70 years old, but that there are two members in their 90s, and several in their 80s.

Derek Reid, another club member says the secret to the success and longevity of the club is simple.

"It's all about the fellowship," he said. "The members are just interested in getting together and they're not worried about being overly self-important."

The health benefits of skiing into the golden years cannot be understated, say experts.

A recent study in Sweden compared some lifelong skiers over the age of 80 with some individuals who don't exercise at all.

The findings showed that the elderly skiers had nearly twice the aerobic activity of seniors who didn't exercise.

In addition to the weekly ski days at Nakiska, this season the group is planning some overnight tours to a variety of resorts including Sunshine, Kimberley, Panorama, Sun Peaks, Silver Start and Marmot.

Reid said the club is always looking for new members and that every level of ability is encouraged. To find out more about membership benefits, visit www.seniorsalpineskiclub.com.