Edmonton·Video

Gary Gibson, 84, to compete once more in Birkebeiner ski race

With thousands of skiers set to converge on Edmonton this weekend for the Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Festival , 84-year-old Gary Gibson is likely to be in a category all his own.

'There's a difference between a new, fresh 70 year old and an 80 year old'

84-year-old skier in a Birkie category all his own

7 years ago
Duration 3:47
In 2015, Garry Gibson, AKA Gibber, was one of the only competitors in the 80 to 90 age category at the Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Festival outside Edmonton. Gibson passed away in October 2021.

With thousands of skiers set to converge on Edmonton this weekend for the Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Festival , 84-year-old Gary Gibson is likely to be in a category all his own.

Gibson, who is from Camrose, will race 55 kilometres in the 80 to 89 age group — a field that was actually created for him.

"I did really well in the 70-plus (category) but as I got close to being 80, you know, really, there's a difference between a new, fresh 70 year old and an 80 year old,” Gibson said.

“I said there should be a category — and they made a category for me. The only problem is, it's been a lonely category for some time."

Gibson, who first learned to cross-country ski while his family lived in a logging camp in the 1930s, has coached hundreds of athletes, many of whom went on to compete in the nationals and even the Olympics.

And Gibber, as he’s known in the ski community, has no plan to quit any time soon. Just two weeks ago, he won his age category at the Alberta Cup race — once again racing as the sole competitor in his age group.

The Birkebeiner is taking place Friday and Saturday near Cooking Lake, and will include races for all ages and abilities.

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