The Winter Olympics are undeniably riveting as they unite countries and sports fans worldwide through intense competition and good old fashioned sportsmanship (in frigid AF weather). While some of the brave and talented competitors have been competing for years and years (we're looking at you, Sean White), others might not even be allowed to buy lottery tickets yet (ahem, Chloe Kim). Based off the age differences in competitors, you're probably wondering how old you have to be to compete in the Winter Olympics — and the answer is actually kind of vague.
To answer the question you're probably all wondering, the age range of Olympians varies tremendously, because they're different for each sport. For instance, snowboarder Chloe Kim is a ripe 17 years old. After only a year and a half of being able to possess a driver's permit in California, Kim is already shredding the slopes like a boss in honor of good old Team USA.
On the other hand, Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe, a famous skier, was 55 years old when he ski raced in Sochi in 2014. So what we're basically trying to say is that Olympians might still be preparing for the SAT's, or they might be just about ready to retire — and it's still possible to be en route to the ever-glamorous Olympic Village. As long as you're talented AF and hella fearless, the world of one of the largest international sports competition is (basically) your oyster.
According to the official Olympics website, there technically really is no universal age limit for competing in the Olympic Games, which is kind of hard to believe. The site says that it really varies based on International Sports Federation (ISF) rules, because different sports can set specific age limits for competing. These specified age limits are then implemented on the event worldwide, which is strictly enforced by the ISF. The age limit for bobsledding, for example, is 14 years old, whereas other sports don't have an age requirement. This can, however, change at any time, based on the ISF rules and regulations.
In the entire history of the Olympic games, Kim Yun-Mi of South Korea is one of the highest achieving young speed-skaters, after competing in the 3,000-meter relay in 1994. At only 13 years old (which, I'm pretty sure was when I was still obsessed with Barbies), Yun-Mi totally owned the Winter Games and took home a freaking gold medal in all her pre-pubescent glory... and TBH, I'm mind-blown. At that age, I was really just focused on which tacky T-shirt I should beg my mom to buy me at Limited Too... but focusing on being an Olympian at that age is cool, too, I guess. Bringing a gold medal to my eighth grade gym class would have been pretty sweet.
So, if you're under the age of 18 and you're hella good at one specific winter sport, make sure to check out the ISF's rules before you decide to start training. Even though the sky is (mostly) the limit, there's still a chance you could be too young to compete in your choice of Winter Games events. Since certain sports may official age limitations, definitely take a look into the rules before making any major moves for your sport of choice.
If you're hoping to watch the games began, tune in to the Opening Ceremony on Friday, Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. While you're at it, make sure you take note of the competitors' varying ages.
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