A few days ago on the Oldest Olympians blog, we looked into the oldest surviving competitors from editions of the Summer Games that had no survivors over the age of 90. Today, we wanted to do the same for Winter Olympians. As one might expect, with winter sports geared more towards younger participants, many of these “oldest” Olympians are relatively young. For example, the oldest participant at the 2018 PyeongChang Games was Finnish curler Tomi Rantamäki, born September 18, 1968. Similarly, the oldest competitor at both the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics was Mexican alpine skier Hubertus von Fürstenberg-von Hohenlohe, born February 2, 1959.
Venezuelan luger Werner Hoeger, born December 15, 1953, was the oldest participant at the 2006 Turin Olympics, and actually competed against his son, Chris, in the singles (Chris edged out his father by placing 31st, ahead of Werner’s 32nd). Werner also competed at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, but at that edition five-time United States Virgin Island luger Anne Abernathy, born April 12, 1953, was older. To get to 1940s births, we have to go back to the 1998 Nagano Olympics and its oldest competitor, Canadian curler Paul Savage, born June 25, 1947, who won a silver medal in the men’s tournament.
The oldest competitor at the 1994 Lillehammer Games was Sammarinese bobsledder Dino Crescentini, but he unfortunately died in 2008 in a motor car racing accident. This leaves Italian cross-country skier Maurilio De Zolt, born September 25, 1950, as the oldest survivor of that edition. Like many of the oldest competitors, De Zolt was a multi-Olympian, having represented his country five times. He won silver medals in the 50 kilometers in 1988 and 1992 and gold in the 4×10 kilometers relay in 1994. He also captured six medals at the World Championships, including gold in the 50 kilometers in 1987.
(John Reeve, pictured on the title card of the “Bet on Yourself” documentary)
Unfortunately, we do not know much about the oldest competitor from the 1992 Albertville Olympics, bobsledder Michael Juhlin of the United States Virgin Islands, born October 19, 1945. He participated in the four-man event and placed 29th out of 31 teams. Bobsledders from that country also made up the three oldest Olympians at the 1988 Calgary Games, with the oldest, Harvey Hook, born August 8, 1935, having died October 14, 2011. This leaves John Reeve, born November 7, 1937, as the oldest survivor of that edition, as he competed in the two man bobsleigh event and was entered in alpine skiing’s giant slalom competition, although he did not start. Of British origin, Reeve was inspired by Egypt’s alpine skier Jamil El-Reedy to take a shot at participating in the Winter Olympics and was featured in the documentary “Bet on Yourself” in his older age.
Reeve is the closest among these individuals to becoming an official “oldest Olympian”, and we look forward to celebrating that achievement in a few years. Until that time, we will be bringing you more stories of the oldest Olympians and hope that you will join us for our next blog entry!