By the time the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang rolls along, Italian figure skater Carolina Kostner will be 31 years old – practically a senior citizen in a sport that puts a premium on youth.
But don’t tell that to the 2014 Olympic bronze medalist, as she feels that she’s better than ever.
In an Associated Press interview, Kostner said that there are some things that she couldn’t do but compared to when she was 16, her mind is as sharp as ever. Throughout her career, she felt all the ups and downs but still she forged on.
What her experience taught her is that there’s no challenge out there that she couldn’t overcome.
“You have to find the right way to challenge your body and challenge your mind at the different stages of life,” she said. “The fun part now is that my body’s still improving.”
But then again, Kostner can’t fight physics and biology and the fact is that figure skating prizes its young athletes for a reason.
Tim Hewett, Ohio State University Sports Health & Performance Institute director, said that an ideal figure skater would be someone with strong legs and a low center of mass. However, as people age, mass will tend to shift into the upper body.
“That is a problem and an issue that has to do with body control and control over your center of mass,” Hewett said.
According to ABC News, the average age of the US figure skating team is 22.27 years old. That’s the youngest average age across different disciplines in the Winter Olympics. The oldest? Curling at 33.9 years of age.
Kostner certainly has her fair share of controversies. In 2015, she was banned 16 months for lying in court over the doping case involving her former boyfriend, Alex Schwazer, an Olympic gold medalist. The ban meant missing the European championships in January although she would be eligible to skate in PyeongChang.