SNOWBIRD — Dozens of family and friends gathered at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort on Wednesday to celebrate the 100th birthday of a man who continues to ski and inspire those around him.
George Jedenoff celebrated hitting 100 by skiing from the top of Hidden Peak to Tram Tower 4. Jedenoff was joined by several longtime skiing friends, as well as his children and grandchildren, who came to see him attach a 100+ skier patch to his jacket.
Bob Murdoch, 93, joined Jedenoff at the celebration, happy to see his friend ride the slopes. Murdoch has skied with Jedenoff for the past 15 years, he said, and for many of those years, they've been able to ski three or four weeks out of the year.
"He exercises a lot more than I do, so he is stronger than I am," Murdoch said.
Murdoch and others attribute Jedenoff's ongoing ski activity to his daily exercise regimen.
As he came down from the slopes, Jedenoff was presented with a plaque celebrating his accomplishment with his favorite quote: "Age is just a number."
In a birthday speech, Jedenoff echoed the words as a key part of his life philosophy.
"Don't let the age bother you," he said. "Don't let the negative things in your life, of which we all have a lot, outweigh the all the positive blessings that you have."
Jedenoff said to view life's obstacles as opportunities rather than problems.
"Life is so short, even 100 on this Earth," he said. "Make every minute count."
Members of the Alta 70+ Ski Club wrote to congratulate Jedenoff on his birthday and thank him for his inspiration to older skiers.
"It's good for older skiers to see that you can be healthy and happy and have a positive attitude," said Harriet Wallis, 74, a coordinator for the Alta Wild Old Bunch skiing group.
Those closest to Jedenoff said his positive attitude reaches beyond his love for skiing.
"For me personally, I see him more as my grandpa," said granddaughter Ashley Billett, 26. "He takes care of my grandma a lot."
Billett said her grandfather has been a constant companion to his wife for more than 74 years of marriage. Jedenoff's attitude has been unwavering despite the challenges of aging, she said, and he continues to help his wife through her ongoing health difficulties.
"For me personally, what I take from him is his absolute gratefulness and love for his wife," Billett said.
Brandon Ott, content director for Ski Utah, said his connection with Jedenoff grew from a mutual interest in skiing and developed into a friendship based on a respect for Jedenoff's life wisdom.
"His mental outlook, I think, is easily half the reason he is still skiing," Ott said.
Ott first met Jedenoff five years ago. Inspired by the then-95-year-old's skiing spirit, Ott and other members of Ski Utah began a yearly tradition of going out with Jedenoff every February and recording a short video of him skiing and a few of his words of wisdom.
Ott said he's been excited to share Jedenoff's story around the world, adding that the most recent video has topped 2 million views.
Ott said his opportunities to meet with Jedenoff also have taught him a lot about family.
"It's hard to communicate with kids, and he always found with his kids that riding a chairlift is a great time to connect because you have that uninterrupted time," he said.
Ott said he has taken Jedenoff's advice to heart, using skiing as an opportunity to connect with his own kids.
"He makes you want to be a better person, too," he said.