The Top 11 Ski Movies of All Time

Mj 618_348_the top 11 ski movies of all time
"Downhill Racer" Courtesy Everett

Swift. Silent. Deep.
The Jackson Hole Airforce, a legendary group of renegade skiers who made a name for themselves by ducking boundary ropes at Jackson Hole in pursuit of untracked powder and big cliffs, were a rough and rowdy group. Their story, perfectly captured in this documentary, is one of the key pieces of modern ski culture and history.

Better Off Dead

This 1985 cult flick about teen-angst is set amongst the backdrop of skiing filmed in Utah’s Big and Little Cottonwood canyons. Cusack plays a guy who gets dumped by his girlfriend for the captain of the ski team, contemplates suicide, and then decides to challenge his rival to a  ski race. His advice: “Just go straight and if anything gets in your way, turn!”

The story of Shane McConkey‘sincredible life and untimely, tragic death is all caught in this documentary. Simply put, Shane McConkey changed skiing forever and for the better. While starring in 26 ski movies, including groundbreaking films like YearbookSteepHigher Ground, and Sick Sense, McConkey pioneered innovations in equipment like rocker, and reverse camber skis, coined the now pervasive term “Freeskiing,” and demonstrated time and time again just how much fun skiing can be. Never one to take himself too seriously, he once mounted a pair of water-skis with bindings and skied a steep Alaskan peak on them to prove his point that deep powder is more like water than snow. McConkey is about far more than just skiing – it’s about why athletes risk their lives, and the terrible price they pay when they push the limits too far.

NEXT >>> McConkey, Blizzard of AAHHH’s, and More >>>

Blizzard of AAHHH’s

Greg Stump’s 1988 masterpiece, Blizzard of AAHHH’s launched the extreme skiing movement in America while making Scott SchmidtMike Hattrup and Glen Plake the faces of skiing’s next generation. The film features the trio shredding Chamonix’s steep couloirs on 210cm skis, helmet cams the size of footballs, and of course, Glen Plake’s colorful Mohawk. Documenting the edge of the edge, Blizzard of AAHHH’s propelled skiing into the future and influenced every ski movie since, all while wearing neon and rocking out to Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

The Spy Who Loves Me
The opening sequence of this 1977 Bond movie is skiing gold. This chase scene begins in a chalet on a fireside bearskin rug with a nude blonde and ends with Bond parachuting off massive cliff. Along the way there are ski poles that turn into guns, a smooth powder run down a glacier dodging bullets, and a back flip for good measure.

Aspen Extreme

Aspen Extreme follows two aspiring skiers – T.J Burke and Dexter Ritecki – from the trash-heap hills of Detroit to the promised land of Aspen, Colorado, a journey full of cocaine, cougars and powder 8’s. Full of parties, booze and boobs, Aspen Extreme charts the real-world highs and lows of following the ski-bum dream.

NEXT >>> Deep and Light, Hot Dog…The Movie, and More >>>

Deep and Light
Warren Miller’s first feature-length movie, released in 1949, created an entirely new film genre. Equal parts documentary, comedy and live performance (Miller toured with the film and personally narrated it), Deep and Light is irreverent, beautiful and, above all, fun.

Hot Dog…The Movie
An instant cult classic and shoe-in on every “best ski movies” list ever made, Hot Dog…The Movie, like any good ski-bum, never takes itself too seriously. Full of rowdy parties, pranks, and great skiing, it inspired current and future ski bums everywhere to keep on living the dream.

Downhill Racer
This is without a doubt the best movie ever made about ski racing. Based on the novel by Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer Oakley Hall and filmed on location in Colorado and the Alps during the 1968-69 World Cup season, Downhill Racer stars Gene Hackman and Robert Redford at the top of their individual games. Redford won a best actor award from BAFTA for his roll as a cock-sure American determined to be the fastest skier in the world. It’s also worth noting that he did all his own skiing in the film.

NEXT >>> The Performers, Apocalypse Snow >>>

The Performers
In 1972, ski film pioneer Dick Barrymore loaded up a Red, White and Blue Winnebago RV in Sun Valley, Idaho with five of the hottest freestyle skiers sponsored by K2 and hit the road. Like a skiing version of the merry pranksters, The Performers introduced hot-dogging and innovative freestyle skiing to an entire generation.

Apocalypse Snow

Chances are you’ve never heard of this three part French film made in the early eighties. Set in some sort of alternate universe/future it features a marauding, militaristic band of mono-skiers chasing a neon clad snowboarder as they shush through pristine powder, down steep chutes and over cliffs. Blurring the lines between ski movie and film-noir, our snowboarding hero escapes the evil mono-skiers with help from hang-gliders, helicopters and a star-trek inspired transporter. The footage of early snowboarding and mono-skiing alone are worth watching, but the original score, fuzzy plot line (it probably would have helped if we spoke French) and overall bizarreness make it a must see.

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