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Just skate: Tech makes age irrelevant for skating stars

05 Nov 2019Inclusion

Gerry and Xenia compete in skating championships around the world. They both enjoy the thrill of skating and the feeling of independence. All that separates them is a 50 year age gap.

At 62 Gerry is the oldest competitor on the half-pipe in the world of professional inline stunt skating. And 10 year old Xenia, who has been competing since the age of eight, is one of the youngest.

Gerry has been a full-time inline skater since 1996, taking him around the globe.

Mentored by former world champion Danish skater Rene Hulgreen – who invented the ‘Viking Flip’ – Gerhard was invited onto the professional skating circuit and quickly developed a passion for the half-pipe.

He has competed against skaters less than half his age in the German and European Professional Championships, and the World Amateur Championships.

“I have no competitors in my age group on this circuit, and so I feel young all the time. As long as my body can keep up, I never want to stop skating,” says Gerry.

‘Buddha’ involves Gerry tucking his legs beneath his chest and closing his arms around them while he flies through the air at the top of the pipe, before speeding back down again – backwards. Picture Credit: Vodafone

Age is just a number

In 1996, Gerhard ‘Gerry’ Jusupoglu was advised by his doctor to take up a sport. He had just turned 40, and after years sitting behind a desk his health was starting to suffer. And so Gerry strapped on a pair of rollerblades, and watched his life take off in every way.

He’s known for his trademark ‘Buddha’ jump , which he performs alongside handstands on either end of a 4 metre (14ft) high half-pipe.

Safety is high on Gerry’s agenda.

“I often tell the younger skaters: if you have a brain, protect it,” he says.

“You need a helmet first and foremost. Then protection pads for elbows and knees, those are the most important parts of our body that we are going to need until the end of our lives.”

Gerry uses the V-SOS band – an internet of things (IoT) device – to keep active whilst giving his family the peace of mind that he is safe.

“Whenever I, as an old man, fall on the track, I just push the button and my son immediately gets a notification on his phone about my location so if I need help, he can help me,” says Gerry.

The V-SOS Band helps older people live independently for longer, letting them call for help in an emergency.

Common ground

“Gerry is cool,” says Xenia. “He does inline skating and I do skateboarding, and we do completely different tricks, but often we ride together in the skate park.”

Already placing first in five European categories, Xenia and her parents know Gerry and his family through the competitions they enter.

Xenia’s parents accompany her on the competition circuit, but training ten hours a week is demanding.

When Xenia is on the half-pipe without her phone she uses the V-Kids Watch – which is also enabled by IoT technology – to keep in touch with her father.

“I can send voice messages on it and emojis and receive messages back,” she says.

In breaks, she can use the watch to play games.

Wearables like these are allowing people – like Xenia and Gerry – to enjoy greater independence, while keeping safe and secure.

In an ever more connected world, there’s room for everyone to feel the benefits of technology – old or young.

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