Great Moments in ‘Murican Ski History

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What could be more 'Merican than this?

Birth of Suzy Chaffee – 1946

Despite her airy personality and endless positivity, Suzy “Chapstick” Chaffee is a straight up ‘Murican badass. At a time when sexism in sports was so rampant that Chaffee had to hitchhike to ski practice at the University of Denver because her coach wouldn’t let her ride in the men’s team van, she was a prize fighter for women’s rights. She led the Title IX march in DC, confronted the head of the NCAA, US presidents, the IOC, and pulled in the likes of Ted Kennedy, Johnny Carson, and Muhammad Ali to help her cause. She was also more or less the first female freestyle skier and pushed that crew to start a women’s division, which she spent the first few years winning despite her resume as a downhiller. Inducted into the Skiing Hall of Fame in three different categories, Chaffee now spends her time fighting for Native American rights. A true ‘Murican rebel!

Shane McConkey Is Born – 1969

A true All-American, Shane McConkey. PHOTO: Nate Abbott for Powder

McConkey deserves an article unto himself, and if his contributions to skiing were all to be dated, I’d be pages beyond my word limit. I’ll just say that few ‘Muricans did as much for skiing as he did.

K2 & The Performers – 1971

At a time in which no other form of alpine skiing was considered legitimate outside of racing, upstart ski company K2 hired filmmaker Dick Barrymore to drive 15,000 miles around the country with a bunch of young “hot-doggers,” including Pat Bauman, Charlie McWilliams, Jim Sterling, Bob Griswold, and John Clendenin, and make a movie to promote the ‘Murican-flag color scheme skis K2 was making. Over the course of the tour, Barrymore would make one of skiing’s most timeless films, freestyle skiing would explode in popularity, and the group would invent the wet t-shirt contest. The tour would culminate in a national wet tee shirt finals at the Red Onion in Aspen with Barrymore as emcee and Stein Eriksen as a judge.

Hot Dog – 1984

Nothing screams “Murica!” like group-mobbing powder at Squaw to a Mitch Ryder song and an Idaho farm boy beating some damn old-school German dude named Rudy Garmish with a trick called the Kiss-Ass Blaster.

Glen Plake & Co. in Chamonix – 1988

When Glen Plake showed up with the Blizzard of Aahhs crew – included co-radicals Scott Schmidt and Mike Hattrip – in Chamonix in the late 80’s with his bleached Mohawk and chili pepper pants, he began a proud tradition of ‘Murican tourism where “assimilation” would no longer be part of the vocab. Instead, the new game would involve dressing obnoxiously and cockily doing whatever the hell we damn well pleased in foreign countries, namely shredding the shit out of whatever terrain was the extremist!

Aspen Extreme – 1993

Patrick Hasburgh, the director and screenplay writer of Aspen Extreme, wrote out a plot so perfectly attuned to the ‘Murican ski bum dream it’s a surprise Obama didn’t hire him as a speechwriter. Detroit autoworker moves to Aspen with best friend, lives in old railroad car, hooks up with hot rich British cougar, becomes the best skier on the mountain, gets a free day of heli-skiing after stealing clients from the old Austrian asshole instructor, wins the Powder 8 by going OB, and gets his story published in POWDER and the nice local girl at the end. ‘Murica!

Johnny Moseley Wins Olympic Gold – 1998

At a point in which mogul skiing had lost its creative energy that bred it in the 70’s and had stagnated to a stale combination of twister-spread-daffies, California’s Golden Boy showed up and deftly dropped the first newschool trick – a 360 mute grab – to ever go down in Olympic bumps on K2s with American flag graphics, no less. ‘Murica!

Freeze Magazine, 1997-2005

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R.I.P. FREEZE. Viva la revolution.

However you want to put it, Freeze was simply the shit. McConkey answered letters from readers, Mark Epstein wrote a regular column as The Jerk, there were poop and sexual jokes aplenty, Parkasauras went down every year at Snow Summit, and printed stories like “Is Freeskiing Dead?” back in 2005, years before freeskiing’s inclusion in the Olympics would beg the same question.

Brad Holmes Circa 1999

Holmes was a major part of an era in ‘murican skiing that started with Plake in which “freeskiers” had attitude, were cocky as hell, wore bleached tips and bad suits, and drove around in ridiculous cars with ‘murican flag paint jobs. Much like his good friend Shaun Palmer and Seth Morrison, Holmes was a figure of freeskiiing’s loud, ugly, and obnoxious beginning before styles became butter-smooth and pro personalities bland. He also shred like hell despite looking completely out of shape, while Guy Fieri, who stole his look entirely, only eats fatty foods.

Bode Miller, 2003-2010

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Team America. F**k Yeah! Bode Miller goes for gold. When he feels like it. PHOTO: Wikimedia

Skiing’s John McEnroe, Miller gave ‘Murican skiing its biggest personality, hardest partier, and most naturally talented athlete ever. He did ‘Murica proud by embarrassing the IOC by “partying at an Olympics level” at the Torino Games, fueling tons of animosity towards him for his lackluster racing performance there, then coming back to Vancouver four years later to win three medals “because I decided that’s what I wanted to do.” Oh, he also started his own race team called Team America, won ABC’s Superstars TV competition, and made the catch of the game during his one-game contract with the Nashua Pride AAA baseball team. Now that’s an ‘Murican!

Ingrid Backstrom Wins ESPN Real Women – 2013

Ingrid Backstrom’s not just a skier, but an ‘Murican skier, and managed to beat out athletes in ESPN’s Real Women video competition from all the other sports the general public thinks are cooler, including snowboarding, surfing, and skateboarding. And we’re pretty sure she spent her prize money to buy Brad Holmes’ Caddy with the American flag paint job and filled it with guns, whiskey, and fireworks she bought in Reno. A real ‘Murican woman!

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