World’s Oldest Competitive Cross-Country Skier Breaks Her Own Record

It’s definitely not all downhill for an 88-year-old Japanese athlete.



(Mike_O /

Skiing is an ancient sport. That’s good news for Katsumi Saeki, a Japanese athlete who shattered her own Guinness World Record by participating in the 2023 Masters World Cup for cross-country skiing held in Austria, all at the remarkable age of 88, according to UPI

Saeki initially earned the title of the world's oldest competitive female cross-country skier when she competed in the Japan Masters Championships last year, at the age of 87. However, she has now exceeded her own extraordinary world record.

Breaking records
Within the Austrian event, Saeki stood as the sole participant in the over-85 category. Nevertheless, her performance in the 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) classic-style race was exceptional, with a time of 26 minutes and 18 seconds. This time not only surpassed one participant in the 81-85 age category but also outpaced three participants in the 76-80 category and one participant in the 71-75 category, Bol News reports.

In the subsequent challenge, the 5-kilometer freestyle event, Saeki exhibited her prowess once again, achieving a commendable time of 29 minutes and 4 seconds. Her performance not only outshone the times of two competitors in the 81-85 category but also outperformed two participants in the 76-80 category, continues Bol News.

Saeki shared her aspirations of further breaking her own record, with her sights set on the upcoming February 2024 Masters World Cup in Finland. Her dedication and achievements continue to inspire awe and admiration, reports UPI.

It’s not all downhill
Skiing offers a unique blend of exhilaration and physical activity, combining the joy of gliding down slopes with a full-body workout, making it an ideal sport for both adrenaline seekers and fitness enthusiasts. The dynamic challenges of navigating varied terrains also foster improved balance, coordination, and mental focus.

Skiing can be traced back to prehistoric times, with the most ancient skis on record originating between 8000 and 7000 BCE. These historical artifacts were unearthed in Russia. 

In September 2021, Norwegian archaeologists successfully uncovered a second ski to complete a pair of wooden skis that date back 1,300 years. This remarkable find represents the world's oldest pair of exquisitely preserved wooden skis, predating the Viking Age, reports Fjord Tours.

Last year, an American, George Jedenoff, was recognized as the world's eldest active skier as he commemorated his 105th birthday on July 5, 2022, according to In the Snow.

Jedenoff embarked on his skiing journey more than six decades ago following a relocation to Utah. "I’ve been able to ski consistently for [more than] 61 years, including a few runs this year at Sugar Bowl, but I can no longer ski at my favorite resorts in Utah because I can’t handle the altitude,” he told his alma mater Stanford Business School when they profiled him recently. “I still do my 45 minutes of exercise every morning to keep limber, and that helps my mind, too.” 

Skiing, ancient yet modern, can still enthrall an older generation.

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