We love a good ski movie, but sometimes watching the greatest athletes in the world crush Alaskan spines leaves us feeling a little more ordinary than we’d like. So, on days where we want the stoke without the identity crisis, we turn to good ole Hollywood. Over the years, Hollywood has attempted many times to capture the essence of ski culture, and while they may not have always hit the mark, these ski scenes have always provided quality entertainment that keeps us coming back year after year. If you’ve never experienced the amusement or amazement that comes from watching a Hollywood ski scene, we’re here to enlighten you with seven of our personal favorites.
No list of Hollywood ski scenes would be complete without mentioning Aspen Extreme. In fact, the movie has become something of a roadmap for any skier that heeds the call to pick up their skis and head west in search of big mountains and deep snow. In the tradition of Beowulf or The Odyssey, Aspen Extreme adheres to the timeless narrative pattern of the Hero’s Journey while chronicling the (mis)adventures of a young T.J. Burke and Dexter Rutecki, two working-class kids from Detroit who load up their van and move out to Colorado to become the “best skiers on the mountain.”
Apart from showcasing some impressive skiing, the movie also explores some familiar tropes that any long-time ski town resident will be able to relate to. Just in terms of skiing, though, Aspen Extreme has it all: immaculate powder 8s, big airs, steeps, mogul hot-dogging, heli-drops, avalanches, cliff drops, and even a crevasse rescue. Oh, and it’s all done on skinny, 200+ cm skis! While there are a number of great ski scenes in the movie, the Powder 8 finale is by far best. And if you look close, you might even recognize some familiar Wasatch views. Enjoy!
For Your Eyes Only
What’s a James Bond movie without an iconic ski scene? In this particular classic, Bond hits an Olympic ski jump, rips through a resort, crashes the après scene, and takes a lap down the bobsled course—all while being pursued by two motorcyclists packing some serious heat. While we can’t exactly relate to being chased down the mountain by assassins, watching Bond weave through skiers at the resort going Mach speed definitely has us reminiscing on the chaos of opening day. One open run and a massive crowd of skiers—what could possibly go wrong? But by far the most satisfying part of this scene is watching an entire ski lesson topple over like a stack of dominoes. If you’ve never had the urge to do this, you’re lying. We’re pretty sure this goes without saying, but ultimately Bond escapes from his pursuers, who are on motorcycles mind you, which leaves us wondering what type of wax he’s using and where can we find some.
Ah, Hot Dog. Such a classic. Not family-friendly so this one is best enjoyed after the kids go to bed. This opening shot has some excellent skiing that “Harkin” back to the good ol’ days. And arguably, the difficulty of the terrain, straight skis, and fitted one-piece make Harkin Bank’s skiing on par with the best athletes in today’s Warren Miller films. Later on in this 1984 classic, we learn that Banks is from Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho. We aren’t sure what the terrain’s actually like in northern Idaho, but this looks like a whole lot of fun!
With shots from Alta, Snowbird, Park City, and Deer Valley, how could we not include this film? Ski Patrol is everything good about skiing. From the broken-down house that reeks of ski bums to the crusade against corporate America, this ’90s gem has everything you need to be reminded of what living the dream truly means. While not particularly important to the story line, our favorite part is the ski patrol free for all. Featuring neon onesies, legendary music, skinny skis, epic wipeouts, and spread eagles, the scene is particularly reminiscent of Alta’s infamous Frank World Classic. Our favorite part about this clip? It reminds us not to take skiing too seriously.
Better Off Dead
Better Off Dead is a classic tale of teenage woes with a couple of quality ski scenes sprinkled in. Our favorite of which is the final race between Lane and Roy down the infamous K12. Near the beginning of the run, Lane loses a ski and proceeds to ski the rest of the race and win on one leg—talk about legs of steel. Our muscles cramped just watching it. If you think skiing bumps is challenging, just imagine doing it on one ski. While the one-legged skiing is definitely impressive, equally as jaw-dropping is the fact that Johnny the paperboy survives a 200-foot fall off of a cliff—somebody get that boy $2.00.
Dumb and Dumber
The comedic stylings of Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels take center stage on this one, but it does have one of Hollywood’s most iconic (and hilarious) ski scenes. Plus, it is technically a ski movie, so it made the list. The iconic “Oh look, frost.” scene isn’t just an easy laugh while riding the chairlift with strangers—it’s a cautionary tale that all skiers should heed. And while it doesn’t actually showcase much in terms of actual skiing, Dumb and Dumber has cemented itself within ski culture through sheer comedic genius alone.
Johnny Tsunami is a Disney classic straight out of the ’90s. This film is an ode to the age-old feud between skiers and snowboarders and culminates in a race between snooty Sky Brett and cool Urchin Johnny for control of the mountain. If Johnny wins, snowboarders are allowed all over the hill instead of just on one side. If Brett wins, he gets the infamous Johnny Tsunami medal. The race begins with Brett shoving Johnny down and leaving him in the dust. As it turns out, Johnny is more into straight lining than he is turning, so he closes Brett’s lead quickly. Obviously Brett isn’t exactly into playing fair, which gives skiers everywhere a bad rep (much to our chagrin), but Johnny prevails through the pushing, elbow jabs, and off-course cliff hits to stay neck and neck with Brett. Near the end of the race, Brett does possibly the most awkward shifty to ever exist, backslaps, and loses control—while Johnny glides effortlessly across the finish line. Needless to say, Johnny reigns supreme, the Tsunami medal stays in the family, snowboarders take over the mountain, and the rivalry is put to bed…for now.
By: Erin McNeely, Content Writer