"As long as the good Lord's willing, I'll keep hanging in," Richard Calvert tells PEOPLE

By Tiare Dunlap
Updated March 15, 2016 06:45 PM

World War II veteran Richard Calvert and his wife, Milly, have been married for over 70 years – but there’s another love in his life that’s been going strong for even longer.

“Skiing is my first love,” the 92-year-old, who learned to ski at age 12, tells PEOPLE.

Today, Calvert is one of the oldest ski racers in New England. He’s also the last of his WWII division, the storied 10th Mountain Division, the members of which were trained in skiing, climbing and mountain combat, to continue ski racing.

He says he seriously cut back on his race appearances last year, but still hits the slopes “for the fun ones.”

“I’m 92, so there’s no one in my age class, they all died or gave up so I guess I’m somewhat-retired,” he explains.

On Saturday, the great grandfather from Wolfesboro, New Hampshire competed in the Hannes Schneider Meister Cup ski race in North Conway, New Hampshire – placing 103rd out of 132. The secret to his continued success is simple, he explains with a laugh: “like any sport it’s practice, practice, practice.”

As with any great love, Calvert’s seen some ups and downs in his 80-year skiing career.

“I’ve separated both shoulders, my thumbs have been snapped off and broken, but that’s nothing my knees hurt but fortunately I haven’t had them replaced,” he says.

None of these injuries could outweigh what Calvert enjoys most about the sport.

“I started skiing because I liked the outdoors and I liked the mountains,” he recalls. “Just being on top of a mountain skiing is such a privilege. You’re closer to God when you’re up on top of a mountain.”

Calvert’s wife, Milly has stopped skiing but with two kids, three grandkids and three great grandkids, he always has someone to accompany him on the slopes.

“Just this year we got our great grandson, he’s 6, out on skis along with our son,” he says. “It’s great to be able to share this with three generations!”

As for how long he plans to continue skiing, he says, “as long as the good Lord’s willing, I’ll keep hanging in.”