Well, since Hilary began our new policy of starting with Bob Dylan lyrics, we’ll see which Winter Olympics athletes soon “will build a ladder to the stars, and climb on every rung, and may [they] stay forever young.”
Who are the youngest and oldest athletes that will compete in Sochi and how do they rank historically with the oldest/youngest all-time at the Winter Olympics?
Well, the youngest female will be German ski jumper Gianina Ernst, born on 31 December 1998, who will be 15-041 (years-days) when she competes on 10 February. The second youngest will be American freestyle skiier Maggie Voisin, born 14 December 1998, who competes the next day in slopestyle, and will be 15-059.
The youngest “man” is Japanese snowboarder Ayumu Hirano, born 28 October 1998, who will also start competition on 11 February, in halfpipe, when he will be 15-106. The next youngest male is Austrian freestyler Marco Ladner, born 22 April 1998, who also is entered in halfpipe, and will be 15-295 when he makes his Olympic début.
But none of those approach the Olympic Winter records for youngest competitors. The youngest female Winter Olympian was British figure skater Cecilia Colledge, only 11-072, when she competed in singles at the 1932 Lake Placid Olympics, while the youngest male to compete at the Winter Olympics was East German figure skater Jan Hoffmann, who was 12-111 at the 1968 Grenoble Games.
So we have yet to see an Olympian born in the 21st century – that landmark will surely occur in Rio de Janeiro two years hence. The first born modern Olympian that we are certain of, incidentally, was 1900 French equestrian Louis, Count de Douet-Graville, born on 27 February 1831, over 157 years before Gianini Ernst and Maggie Voisin.
The oldest competitor in Sochi will be the Mexican Alpine skiing Prince, Hubertus von Hohenlohe, or more properly, Hubertus Rudolph, Prince von Fürstenberg-von Hohenlohe-Langenburg. Billed in some recent media pieces as “The Most Interesting Olympian in the World,” the Prince-Alpine skiier-rock singer-professional photographer was born 2 February 1959, and will have just turned 55-years-old in Sochi. He will become the 2nd oldest Winter Olympian of all-time, surpassed only by a Swedish curler at the 1st Winter Olympics, Carl-August Kronlund, who was 58-156 when he competed at Chamonix.
Prince von Hohenlohe will become the oldest ever Winter Olympic Alpine skiier, although he actually already holds that distinction, as he was 51-025 when he competed at Vancouver in 2010.
The next oldest man in Sochi will be German curler, John Jahr, born 10 April 1965, who will be almost 49 years old when he starts competition.
The oldest female in Sochi will be Angelica Morrone di Silvestri, an Italian-American, who will cross-country ski for Dominica along with her husband, Gary di Silvestri, an American investment specialist. Morrone di Silvestri was born on 25 November 1965, and will be 48-081 when she skis in the 10 km classical in Sochi on 13 February. This will make her the oldest woman to ever compete in Olympic cross-country skiing, by far, surpassing Norwegian Hilde Gjermundshaug Pedersen, who was 41-100 back in 2006 at Torino. The di Silvestris ski for Dominica because they used to vacation there, and well, it seemed like as a good a country as any to represent at the Winter Olympics. The daily mean temperature in Dominica, incidentally, varies year-round between 21.8 and 24.6 degrees Celsius (71.2 to 76.3 Fahrenheit).
Gary di Silvestri turned 47 on 3 February, and will be the 3rd oldest male Winter Olympian in 2014, and also will become the 3rd oldest man to compete in Winter Olympic cross-country skiing, trailing Costa Rican Arturo Kinch, who was 49-309 in 2006, and Thailand’s Prawat Nagvajara, who was 47-078 when he compete in Torino.
Third-oldest Olympian of some sort seems to run in the di Silvestri family. Angelica will become the 3rd oldest female Winter Olympian of all-time, trailing US Virgin Island’s lugeist Anne Abernathy, who was 48-306 at Salt Lake City. The second oldest female Winter Olympian was American curler Joni Cotton, 48-266, also in 2002.
“May God bless and keep [them] always, may [their] wishes all come true … ”