Oldest Freestyle Skier Set To Inspire Millions at the Vancouver Olympics

Carlos G GironContributor IIIDecember 26, 2009

SAUZE D'OULX, ITALY - FEBRUARY 20:  Clyde Getty of Argentina in action during practice for the Mens Freestyle Skiing Aerials on Day 10 of the 2006 Turin Winter Olympic Games on February 20, 2006 in Sauze D'Oulx, Italy.  (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
Adam Pretty/Getty Images

“Age doesn’t matter,” asserts Clyde Alejandro Getty, a 48-year old freestyle skier born in the United States but representing Argentina at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics kicking off in February.

The oldest freestyle competing skier in the world is an aerialist, no less. Yes, aerialist skiers are those that jump off ramps and rise over 45 feet in the air, twist, turn and flip, then smoothly land on snow down below. They finish by raising their arms jubilantly enjoying the natural adrenaline rush of having completed their daring feat.

That is how it goes for the best in the world, at least most of the time.

The last time the two-time Olympian jumped at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, he fell and landed flat on his face. To his surprise, after he got up, wiped the snow off his face, and flashed a smile, he was greeted with loud and enthusiastic cheers and applause by the fans. He then decided to raise his arms and to celebrate as if that jump had assured him of a medal.

Far from a medal, Getty, 44 years-old at that time, finished dead last in the 28th place.

But that did not discourage him from continuing to practice the sport he loves. To Getty, competing at the Olympics has little to do with earning an Olympic medal. To the resilient and hyperactive athlete, winning is having the privilege of pursuing the sporting discipline he is so passionate about at the highest level.

“My goal is to land two triples,” Getty says. “If I want to be a bit more ambitious, my goal would be to land two triples and to make the finals. That would be my gold medal.”

The former U.S. ski national team member was born in the United States to Argentinean parents. In 1999, after being dropped from consideration for the U.S. Olympic Team due to age, according to Getty, he decided to become an Argentinean citizen. He then went on to represent Argentina at the 2002 and 2006 Winter Olympics. He is the only active competitive Argentinean aerialist skier.

As he gets closer to participating in his third Olympic competition, he says that he appreciates more than ever the joy that the sport gives him and is fully conscious that this will be his last participation in the grand global sporting celebration. “You have to think, how long am I going to be doing triple flips?” he asked rhetorically. The answer is obvious, as long as his body permits. He is that persistent, passionate and dedicated to this sport.

His methodical training regimen includes bouncing off a trampoline attached to flexible ropes. He also skies in knee-deep snow and jumps off improvised ramps. His landings sometimes fail. But what never fails is his steely resolve, persistence and stubborn passion for the sport.

Closing in to his 50th birthday, Getty’s most inspirational accomplishment is staying thoroughly fit and able to compete with the world’s best. Many fans, athletes and casual observers over 40 years of age will surely take notice and will be inspired to become more active and fit. Getty is living proof that with a proper training regimen and nutrition, plus an indomitable spirit, older people can perform great athletic feats.

That alone will be worthy of an “honorary Olympic Gold Medal,” if there was such an award.

Medal or no medal, first or last place, Getty’s quest vividly exemplifies the spirit of the Olympics. As the Olympic Creed states, "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."

As Getty says: “What matters is not age, what is important is what we carry in our hearts.”

Getty is one of five Olympic athletes selected by Panasonic, an Official Worldwide Olympic Partner, because they have overcome a variety of adverse circumstances in seeking the opportunity to compete in the Olympic Games. For more information please visit: http://5dreams.panasonic.net/