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Middle aged skaters, surfers & snowboarders

03 May 2023

When imagining the stereotypical surfer, skateboarder or snowboarder, we likely picture a young, fit, reckless male.


It’s not unfounded, as the media portrayal of these lifestyle sports promotes this stereotypical image and participants are far more likely to be teenagers. How does it feel then for the middle-aged men and women who continue their dedicated participation in these sports? 

Being in a skatepark surrounded by youngsters can be a confronting experience for someone in their 40s, especially when accompanied by confused, even concerned, expressions from the public. But dedicated middle-aged participants do exist, which poses the question: what can we learn from their experiences?

This Tauhere UC Connect public lecture on Wednesday 10 May – Middle-age board-om: Skating, surfing & snowboarding in your 40s – presented by University of Canterbury Health lecturer Dr Nick Maitland, focuses on a study into the experiences of 12 men and women over the age of 40 who are dedicated surfers, skaters and/or snowboarders.

“The stereotype of action sports as the exclusive domain of the young and cool is well out of date,” Dr Maitland says. “The action sports industry began noting a trend towards ‘greying’ participants over a decade ago. Those who took up action sports as teenagers in the 1970s and 1980s are still active today. Many have taught their children and grandchildren, sharing these sporting cultures with their families.”

He will discuss how these lifestyle sports continue to provide meaning in middle age, as a source of excitement, an effective means of coping with stress and contributor towards positive wellbeing.

Dr Maitland will also consider how these participants overcome barriers to engagement, including employment and family responsibilities, as well as injury recovery and fear of getting hurt.

About the speaker
Dr Nick Maitland is a lecturer in the University of Canterbury’s Faculty of Health. He specialises in sociology of sport and sport marketing. He’s interested in participation in lifestyle sports, such as surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding, particularly the experiences of older participants. Much of this interest comes from being an older participant himself in skateboarding and snowboarding.

  • Tauhere UC Connect public lecture: Middle-age board-om: Skating, surfing & snowboarding in your 40s, presented by Lecturer Dr Nick Maitland, Sports Management and Marketing, Faculty of Health, University of Canterbury, 7pm–8pm, Wednesday 10 May 2023, C1 lecture theatre in C-Block, C1 Central Lecture Theatres, Ilam, Christchurch. Register to attend free. Tauhere UC Connect talks are also livestreamed on the UC Facebook page, and available to watch afterwards on YouTube. Find out more about UC’s free talks at:

Media contact
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  • Phone: (03) 369 3631 or 027 503 0168
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