Seniors face off in an ice hockey tournament during a past Michigan Senior Olympics.

Seniors face off in an ice hockey tournament during a past Michigan Senior Olympics.

Photo provided by the Michigan Senior Olympics

Local athletes prepare for Michigan Senior Olympics winter games

By: Mary Beth Almond | C&G Newspapers | Published January 8, 2019

METRO DETROIT — Former cyclist turned competitive walker Michael Cushnier has been competing in the Michigan Senior Olympics for over 20 years, and he has no plans to slow down.

After retiring, Cushnier, now 71, of Rochester Hills, was looking for a way to stay busy and active, so he turned to cycling.

“I retired early. I was 53. I had been riding competitively and bike racing in local races, and they became harder and harder to find, so I started doing the MSO. They have four competitive bike races during their session, and I did that for many years, and then I hurt myself,” Cushnier said. “For a while, I couldn’t bike ride because I had my thumbs operated on. It was a bad crash. That’s the only year that I missed doing the bike races, and I felt like I still wanted to do something to stay in shape and be competitive.”

A neighbor invited Cushnier to join his competitive walking group in 2012, and he hasn’t stopped since.

This winter, he will participate in the MSO’s powerwalk and racewalk competitions, which, although they are a mainstay for the summer games, are new to the winter games.  

“Last weekend I did my 100th race,” Cushnier said in December. “It’s become a way of life. I exercise four or five times a week and get into as many competitive events as I can. The big upside is the health benefit, but I’ve met so many friends that became good friends just through participating in both cycling and racewalking.”

The 2019 MSO winter games will be held Feb. 6-11 at various locations throughout Oakland and Macomb counties.

Michigan Senior Olympics Executive Director Becky Ridky expects approximately 700 participants ages 50 and older to compete in the winter games this year — which include badminton, basketball, billiards, bocce ball, pickleball, powerlifting, table tennis, racquetball, men’s and women’s ice hockey, co-ed volleyball, dancesport and three new events: indoor track and field, racewalk and powerwalk.

“Adding the track and field events in to the winter games is something the athletes have been asking for for a long time now, so they are very excited about it,” Ridky said.

The games are open to anyone 50 and older, and athletes of all skill levels compete in five-year age groups. Seniors can register to compete in various events through the early registration deadline of Jan. 18, and all of the games, with the exception of dancesport, are free for spectators to watch.

“Our winter games are just a great, fun way to get people to remain active and healthy,” Ridky said.

The dancesport competition, where professional and amateur dancers compete on the dance floor, will be held at the Royal Park Hotel in Rochester Feb. 17.

The Michigan Senior Olympics will also host a 50-and-older women’s ice hockey tournament April 12-14 and co-ed volleyball March 24.

In addition to the winter games, the MSO will partner with the Krazy Klassic Cross Country Ski Race, presented by Epic Races, on Sunday, Jan. 13, at Huron Meadows Metropark in Brighton. The event features 8K and 12K races.

The MSO is also looking for sponsors and around 150 volunteers for both the upcoming winter games and the 40th annual summer games in August. Volunteers of all ages can be trained to assist with registration, check-in, T-shirt folding and scorekeeping.

For more information, a schedule of events, or to volunteer or become a sponsor for the upcoming games, visit or call (248) 608-0252.