While looking for what could be considered the first "Ski Part" in film, I quickly realized that even if I could find that "Ski Part", I wouldn't be able to contextualize it. I needed a historical timeline in which to contextualize the things I was researching. Historical context is equally important to understanding the work being produced today. Part of the MST mission is researching and cataloging how the themes in Skiing have historically interacted with the zeitgeist, to better understand how Skiing currently fits in the cultural narrative.
This will serve as a brief, timeline overview of how ski culture developed by highlighting pivotal moments and characters that contributed. I hope to dive deeper into these moments in other articles. If there is a piece of relevant history you think needs to be included, covered, or edited, please contact me here. A special thank you to Laura Obermeyer for her valuable input.
2000–2009: Coming Soon
2010–2020: Coming Soon
This gymnast-turned-skier is credited for introducing aerial acrobatics to skiing. After being the first Non-Alps male skier to win a gold medal at the Olympics in 1956, he would go on to be a renowned ski instructor in the US, showcasing his aerial acrobatics every day at lunch.
In the skiing boom of the 70's a new "freestyle" way of skiing called Hotdogging emerged as a rebellion to the rigid, structured culture around skiing. The aim of Hotdogging was to get down the slopes in the most stylistic way possible—falling, rolling, daffys, and spread eagles included. The first Hotdog Championship was held in 1973 led by characters like Scott Brooksbank, Suzy Chapstick, and the legendary Wayne Wong.
Jake Moe first saw a copy of Surfer Magazine in 1971 while working Ski Patrol at Sun Valley, Idaho. He decided that skiing needed a magazine that was for Skiers by Skiers, and wasn't full of car and cigarette ads like the leading ski magazines of the time. Powder Magazine would be a staple of skiing for decades.
The first mass-produced, twin tip ski, marketed primarily for ski ballet and hotdogging.
Something was in the water in Canada in the 70's and 80's. Canadians dominated global skiing competitions led by aerial legends like John Eaves, Craig Clow, Jean Corriveau and Pierre Poulin who led the way for the next generation that included the Laroche brothers, Lloyd Langlois, Jean-Marc Rozon, and Marie-Claude Asselin. At one point 13 of the 16 top aerial skiers were all from Quebec.
The Freestyle Skiing World Cup had been around since 1978 but the first FIS (International Ski Federation) Freestyle World Championships were held in Tignes, France. They were held for the second time in 1989 and have been held every two years since.
Greg Stump's rockumentary-style ski film put extreme skiing into the zeitgeist and arguably set the template for all ski films that would come after it. A full look into the impact of the film was documented in 2009 with the retrospective "Legend of Aahhh's".
Freestyle Skiing was a demonstration sport at the Olympics since 1988 that included aerials, moguls, and ballet. Moguls would be made a Medal Event in 1992 and Aerials would follow in 1994.
Inspired by the innovations in the board sports taking over the globe, Line Ski founder, Jason Levinthal began working on the Ski Board. A smaller, twin-tip, ski designed for tricks and spins.
Started by Mike Jacquet and friends in Boulder, Freeze was a counter-culture, extreme skiing magazine for the "Punk Rock Skier" (the initial name idea for the magazine).
The snowboarding summer camp had been open since 1988 and it became the first terrain park where skiers were allowed to ride in 1997. Founder and owner, Ken Achenbach, hosted Salomon and Mike Douglas from NCAF that same year, when they filmed 1080.
Channeling the energy from the snowboarders around them and building off the legacy of the Quebec Air Force, a new group of young skiers would emerge as revolutionaries in the world of freestyle. Mike Douglas, Shane Szocs, Marc McDonell, Vincent Dorion, J.P. Auclair and J.F. Cusson all had roots in moguls skiing but would show what was possible in Halfpipe and Big Air—two disciplines adapted from snowboarding.
Mike Douglas of the NCAF reached out to Salomon with the original plan for the first twin-tip ski designed for switch riding. It's successful release was the perfect cocktail of talented athletes, innovative product, groundbreaking video, and a US Open win in 1998. Watch the SalomonTV episode here for the full history.
The Winter X Games had hosted snowboarding, ice climbing, snow mountain bike racing, and super-modified shovel racing since 1996. But it wasn't until 1998 that they let skiing join in. Ski Boarding now seems novel as it would only remain in the X Games for three short years. Mike Nick took home the first Gold and Jason Levinthal the Bronze.
Tim Windell had moved his "Shred the World" snowboarding camp from Whistler to Mt. Hood in 1989 and in 1999 Free Skiing was added. It's difficult to find any documentation from that time but I stumbled upon a photo blog from an Oregon family roadtrip in the summer '99 and the picture above was included.
In January 1999 a crew of skiers would set up a jump session in Utah's Grizzly Gulch. Chad Zurinskas had the initial idea to clear the 120ft gap and came up short three times. The young frenchman, Candide Thovex, took his turn and on his second attempt, cleared the gap with a mute grab.
POWDER Editor, Kieth Carlsen, leveraged the momentum of the Salomon 1080 and NCAF and convinced SNOWBOARDER to let them use their Super Park once they were done with it. A dedicated terrain park for pushing the sport into the future and documenting it's development. In its six-year run, Superpark hosted a lot of young talent that would be the who's-who of skiing for the next two decades—Candide Thovex, Tanner Hall, Shane McConkey, J.F. Cusson, Philou Poirier, Mike Douglas, Pep Fujas, Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, Sarah Burke, Eric Pollard, Mark Abma and C.R. Johnson to name a few.