— Editor’s note: This is the seventh in the series about the Silver Tsunami, a nationwide phenomenon that has 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day. According to information provided by the Innovations in Aging Collaborative, an estimated 20 percent of the U.S. population will be older than 65 in the near future. In the series, The Courier looks at issues that affect Teller County. The series as well includes interviews with people who have become part of the tsunami.
First in this year’s Rocky Mountain U.S. Ski Team Masters competition, Barry Ottley, 74, lays waste to the notion that senior citizens hang up their killer instinct.
“I started racing when I was 65,” he said. “I wanted to do something different.”
Ottley, who lives in Florissant, scored a collective 495 points in the competition, finishing second in slalom, first in giant slalom, first in super giant slalom and first in downhill. He competes in the 70-75 age category.
The masters are for the skier who has a difficult time letting go. “A lot of people who race on ski teams want to continue racing after they can no longer compete,” he said. “So the team has a master’s league; I think the oldest is 82.”
Ottley is a member of the EurAm. U.S. team and entered 28 races last year. “As you go along there are fewer and fewer skiers,” he said.
In 2015 Ottley will be one of 4,703 residents 65 years and older in Teller County. He’s part of the Silver Tsunami, a result of 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day. Collectively, each is attempting to avoid catastrophe as they age, get around devastation that can occur in any number of ways.
For Ottley, the secret to aging successfully is accomplished in increments. “If you don’t get up and move every morning, you can’t,” he said. “If you quit moving, nothing works.”
Yet Ottley has had his share of setbacks, among them, two back operations via laser surgery, has a stent in his heart and, on the list, is a left-knee replacement.
The setbacks are just details for Ottley. Undeterred by factors such as wind-chill temperatures sinking to 24 degrees below zero he also isn’t put off by maneuvering around gates at 58 miles an hour.
At an age when the thrill of the chase is gone or arrives at longer intervals, Ottley thrives on going for the gold. “I’ll admit ski racing is pretty exciting; it is an adrenaline rush,” he said, “What’s funny is that you spend lots and lots of money for one minute of adrenaline. Most of us are adrenaline junkies.”
Champion ski racer who works four days a week at Companion Habitat in Colorado Springs, Ottley exudes energy, doesn’t mind driving in snowstorms down the pass.
“I like working,” he said.