Septuagenarian Earns Level II XC Certification

News April 30, 2012

Excerpt from XCitation E-Newsletter Volume 3, Issue 2

On February 20th, 2012, Jim Ballendine of Winnipeg received his CANSI Level II Instructor’s Track Certification, at 74 years young! He turns 75 in April. Jim has been skiing for almost 30 years, and he has been instructing for about 4 years.

Jim has always been athletic and he took to skiing when he hurt his back playing squash. He fell in love with cross country and skied as often as possible, always trying to improve his technique and speed. He began participating in local races and he completed his first of 13 consecutive Birkebeiner races when he was 49. He placed 312th overall. He continued to race, winning several age group medals.

Jim has competed in the 58 kilometer Mora Vasaloppet seven times. He won his age group each time, with a personal best of 3 hours and 2 minutes. “I love racing, especially the long 50 km races and I have also completed the Pepsi Challenge, Sleeping Giant Loppet, Great Bear Chase, Saskaloppet, City of Lakes Loppet (34 km), and the Finlandia, which I completed in 3:02 last year.” (Editor’s note: That would be at age 73.)

Jim’s most memorable race occurred just before he turned 65. At that time he developed Cardiac Tamponade and required emergency life-saving surgery. A window was cut in the lining of his heart so that fluid in the pericardium could be drained. Three months later he entered a 10 km race which he barely finished. Jim describes his approach to the finish line: “Even though I was far behind the leaders, everybody started clapping and cheering which resulted in me crossing the finish line in tears. I did not race again that winter but I always considered that my “BEST” race.”

Jim started instructing naturally… skiers simply stopped him on the trails asking for help. Since he was unofficially teaching, he decided he had better be certified. He completed his CANSI Level I four years ago. He has been teaching ever since, giving group and private lessons. He especially enjoys teaching students who have told him that they are too old to learn to ski.

Watch for Jim in your next race. He will be the young 74+ year old near the front! If you live in Central, watch for Jim on the teaching grid as he prepares his skills for a level 3 course. Jim is an inspiration to all of us. “Man does not stop playing because he grows old, he grows old because he stops playing!” Congratulations to 74 year young Jim Ballendine!

BTW, Jim is one of many CANSI certified instructors at Windsor Park Nordic Centre.

Congratulations Jim!