Age no barrier to masters of ski racing

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Veteran Olympic skiers will be racing down Coronet Peak this Friday.

About 80 older athletes will be hurtling down the slopes, albeit at slower speeds than in the past, at the New Zealand Skiing Masters.

In the line-up are ex-Olympians Chris Womersley, Kate Rattray and Queenstown’s Mark Vryenhoek, who will be defending his under-55 men’s combined title.

The oldest in of the field is Cantabrian skiing personality Paul Bush, aged 81. His 83-year-old rival Frank Baddely was injured in the Mt Hutt Masters last weekend and is sitting this competition out.

Organiser Fraser Skinner says it’s the 23rd year the event’s been on, and the 8am downhill race – the only one on the masters’ circuit – is a major drawcard.

“Competitors get a huge adrenalin rush out of skiing fast on a course from top to bottom just as daylight breaks,” Skinner says.

“These skiers are still very fast and competitive and it’s great to have them still involved.”

A slalom race will follow the downhill, with the giant slalom being held on Saturday.

Walter Unterberger, 73, and Queenstowner Liz Wallace, 64, are last year’s national masters’ winners and will be at Coronet Peak competing again this year.