Swooshing down a mountain of fresh powder snow, maneuvering around moguls, slicing through racing gates—those are all activities for youngsters, right?
Don’t tell that to Dick Calvert, competitive racer and member of the Silver Streaks, the over-50 ski club at Waterville Valley Resort. Calvert, who has been racing for 21+ years, was a member of the 10th Mountain Division, the alpine unit that spearheaded the 5th army drive in Italy during World War II. Today, he’s a master skier and dedicated member of the Silver Streaks, which meets four times a week at Waterville Valley.
A die-hard skier, Calvert rarely sees conditions he doesn’t like. “Dick will always say the skiing is great, no matter what it’s like,” says Terry Roper, coordinator of the Silver Streaks program. “And he always comes in first or second in most races, regardless of the age group.”
Calvert is typical of the hale and hearty attitude of the Silver Streak members.
The Silver Streaks club was started by Tom Corcoran, the Olympic ski champion and visionary founder of Waterville Valley who, upon turning 55, decided the resort should have a club for people his age. From the beginning, the club has attracted a certain type of person. “
Being a senior skier at Waterville Valley does have its perks. Members of the Silver Streaks enjoy reserved parking at the lot closest to the base lodge. They have their own meeting area where they enjoy coffee and Danish before heading out to the slopes. There are lessons and clinics just for members, an après–ski party every Wednesday, and banquets twice a season. “It’s turned out to be a wonderful way to meet people with the same interests” says Loli Hammond, who splits her time between Cape Cod and Waterville Valley. In fact, many of the club’s members continue to get together on the Cape during the off-season.
Silver Streak members keep coming back, year after year, although they sometimes have to take a season off because of surgeries or other illnesses. “But even when they’re not skiing, they often come to the lodge to hang out with their friends,” says Terry Roper.
For some, the Silver Streaks have become a path back to health. Diane Culhane, a retired police officer, had suffered a series of injuries that left her depressed and debilitated. Then she ran into someone wearing a Silver Streaks pin and asked about it. The person explained about the group and invited her to join.
“My physical therapist said, ‘Are you out of your mind?’” Culhane says. But she was determined. Soon, she was out on the slopes, sporting a special pair of boots for support. And despite another injury that has her off the slopes temporarily, she plans to be out skiing with her friends again soon. “At home people say, ‘Sit down, take it easy.’ Up here, it’s ‘When can you get out there again?’” With a laugh, she adds, “Live until you die, is my motto.”
In addition to downhill skiing, the Silver Streaks also take advantage of Waterville Valley’s 75 km of cross-country ski trails. “We even do a snowboard lesson,” says Terry Roper, who adds with a laugh, “…in March, when the snow is a bit softer.”
“This is an incredibly active group of people,” says Bill Larsen, a retired executive with Johnson & Johnson and a member of the group. “I’ve never found another group like it.”
Of course, you don’t have to be a world-renowned expert or retired executive to belong to the group. “We have a lot of highly educated people, a lot of PhDs, but we also have carpenters, people in the trades,” says member Judi Brady. “And the nice thing is, you don’t even know.”
The one thing the Silver Streaks seem to have in common is a love of skiing and the active life. “We don’t have a lot of geezer talk in this group,” says Loli Hammond.