80-year-old earns Aspen’s 100-day skiing pin
Bob Bruce lives by a simple motto: “If you never slow down, you never grow old.”
The retired General Electric executive who spends most of his time in Aspen has the distinction of being the oldest man to pull off a number of local athletic feats. At age 80, he was the oldest to earn a pin from Aspen Skiing Co. this season for skiing at least 100 days at the Aspen-area resorts. He has participated in the Leadville 100 mountain bike race four times and was the oldest each year. He last tackled the grueling race when he was 75.
Bruce said he’s earned his 100-day ski pin the past six winters, since he and his wife, Nancy, moved to Aspen full time.
“Some years, it’s just perseverance,” he said. Last ski season, for example, he was hounded by bursitis and missed a month. He still got out enough days to earn the pin.
“I knew I had to ski every day,” he said.
This season, the bursitis wasn’t as bad, but ski conditions often made it difficult to depart his West Buttermilk home. The Bruces traveled early in the ski season, so the self-applied pressure was on Bob to hit the slopes with regularity come mid-December. Some days, it was tough to get motivated to ski when he couldn’t even see the end of his driveway.
“Just do it,” Bruce said he told himself. “I don’t want to miss any days goofing off.”
He made his goal with ease. He reached 100 days of skiing by March 16. Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle said Skico records indicate Bruce was, indeed, the oldest person to earn a pin this season.
Why do it? Is Bruce motivated by goals such as the century skiing mark?
“It’s there,” he initially quipped. But Bruce, who has an easy-going demeanor with a stranger on the phone, turned serious for a second, and said he is convinced that physical activity is key to remaining mentally sharp at an older age. He said he has friends in their 80s who are in poor shape. It’s a chore just to go to dinner with them. He’s determined to remain fit as long as possible.
He doesn’t take any breaks. He departed Aspen for California this month so he could consistently train on his road bicycle. He needs to get in shape for an organized tour in Wyoming later in the summer.
He said he will be back in Aspen on June 1. His usual routine features bike trips down to Glenwood Springs on the Rio Grande Trail. As he works himself into better shape at altitude, he will tackle Maroon Creek Road some days, Castle Creek Road on others and occasionally both. When he’s really feeling ambitious, he will tackle Maroon, Castle, then Maroon again.
Aspen Mountain used to be his ski area of choice during winters. The installation of the high-speed quad chairlift at Tiehack lured him over there. It’s convenient and less crowded. He doesn’t skimp on a day of skiing just to rack up a day. He said he typically skis 20,000 vertical feet in one outing.
Bruce has every intention of chalking up 100 ski days in 2015-16 and beyond. The pins that mark the accomplishment go on a special hat.
“I either need to change hats or remove some pins,” he said. He looks forward to the dilemma.
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