A New Brunswick ski instructor who turns 80 years old in just a few weeks is inspiring new skiers to follow his lead and get out on the slopes no matter what age they are.
Jim Olive has been a ski instructor at Poley Mountain ski hill in Waterford, N.B. near Sussex for the past 40 years, where he’s spent half of his life strapped into a set of ski boots.
Olive said he has lost count the number of people he’s taught to ski over the years.
“[I’d] say 100,000 people would not be out of line I don’t think,” said Olive, who got hooked on skiing when he first hit the slopes back in 1968 trying to impress a “lady friend.”
“I woke up the next morning and I had a huge bruise on each hip and I looked at that and I said let’s go down and buy some gear.”
Olive hasn’t stopped skiing since.
Bill Anderson, general manager at Poley Mountain, said novice skiers and even the more advanced come into the ski school asking specifically to be taught by Olive, who has become the “patriarch” of the hill.
“People always like to look up to somebody and I think that Jim is one of those people for sure,” Anderson said.
A year after Olive learned to ski he said he took a job with the ski patrol “because we figured it might make us a little beer money,” he joked.
Olive said the only thing he possibly loves more than skiing and teaching, is his skiing partner and partner in life of 46 years Barbara Cain, who passed away this past fall.
“It’s kind tough and that, but I guess well just have to try and live with it,” said Olive, who said he finds peace in the loss on the hill.
He said that peace he feels is why he plans to keep right on teaching, even as his 80th birthday approaches.
When he demonstrates techniques to his students, like Margaret Edmunds, he’s also known to be heard singing a tune as he glides down the hill.
“I think that Jim is astronomical to be out here every day and the little kids think he is wonderful and Poley Mountain have a treasure in this man to be here,” Edmunds said.
Whether Olive is coaching a group of kids or late bloomers, his gentle tone and patience inspire his students like Jana Comeau.
“I just started skiing when I was 42 and I thought I was late getting into the game so it’s nice to hear of other people doing it for a lifetime,” Comeau said.
Olive said he will stay on the slopes and continue to teach for as long as his “old bones” will allow and he hopes that Barbara is watching over him, so that he can do just that.
“I hope so, so she can help keep me standing up.”
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