Oscar Wilde once said, “Youth is wasted on the young.” Trying something new at an old age is a daunting task for some. Especially when that new activity is competitive alpine racing. But for 79-year-old Charlie Hauser it’s just another day on the hill. Hauser is a national masters alpine winner but did not grow up ski racing. Another passionate alpine skier is Jim Glendining. Glendining is the owner of The George Bar and Restaurant. When he isn’t talking it up with visitors of the George, you can find Glendining out racing in Town Races, or forerunning for major alpine events. The passion and determination for alpine racing led these two, as well as others, to the Masters program at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail (SSCV).
The Masters program was created in 1978 by Bob Seeman and has seen repeat participants ever since. “Back when the Masters program first started we had a group of 60 or 70 year olds who were mostly airplane pilots. At the time we called them the jerk squad,” said Seeman. “It was such a blast to rip around with those old guys. You would watch them ski down the mountain with big grins and it was like they were kids again,” said Seeman.
The Vail Summit Orthopaedics Town Series has helped the continued success of the program with racers like Glendining coming on board. “I grew up freestyle skiing but when mogul mania died out I wanted to continue skiing at a competitive level. I just love racing. With racing it is easy to tell when you are getting better because of the time aspect,” said Glendining. “The training out here is crazy good. Last year I had one lane and in the other lanes there was Ligety, Miler, and Svindal. It’s a blast and I just love being out on the hill.”
In many ways it’s easier coaching a group of adults who hang on every word a coach says and are looking to improve. Lad Lavitka is the current coach for the masters program and has the racing background to back up his coaching abilities. Lavitka grew up racing in the Peuget Grand Prix events among others and is a passionate alpine skier. “We have a good range of skiers in the Masters Program. Some of the athletes compete in the USSA Masters level competitions. Charlie Hauser goes to all the races and he is the reigning national champion in division 10. He has only been racing for the past seven years or so. This year the USSA Nationals are in Big Sky Montana,” said Lavitka. The National competition runs from March 18th until March 23rd this year with events in slalom, giant slalom, and super g.
The Masters Program trains on Golden Peak in the afternoons every Monday and Wednesday during the season. For more information on how to be apart of the Masters Program at SSCV go to skiclubvail.org.