Ski Segments of Our Youth

Looking back on the movies that made us want to be skiers.

It’s movie trailer season, which is making us nostalgic for the ski films of our youth. So we busted out our old copies of movies like Teddybear Crisis and The Tangerine Dream and looked back on the segments that have stuck with us.

Tanner Hall – Happy Dayz

I grew up ski racing in northern New England, and was first exposed to freeskiing through VHS films. I had seen TGR’s Prophecy, and Poorboyz’s, Propoganda through friends, but the first film I bought was Happy Dayz from Poorboyz. I must have watched the movie 100 times that fall. I was in sixth grade; I never ski raced again. Tanner Hall's segment is introduced by Evan Raps, who mentions how skiing is like a video game for Tanner. From start to finish there is specific vibe; Tanner is the best, and he knows it. He drops a notorious D-spin 1080 in an all-white suit that would make the any grown man shook. His clothing really stuck out to me— he's wearing jeans and an Oakley jersey boosting out of the High North Ski Camp quarter pipe. His style was fresh and innovative. His switch butter 540 off a small cornice was the beginning of a whole new trick set as were his switch pow landings off a natural take off on park skis. Tanner was the best, and probably still is. –Celebrity Editor Nick Martini

Aspen Extreme

In 1993 I was 9 years old. I played Pogs and listened to Tina Turner semi-religiously. I loved both Top Gun and "The Top Gun of the ski slopes." So while my colleagues are probably digging deep into the vaults of skiing's esoteric, ahead-of-its-time cinema, I'm going in the opposite direction. The most significant ski segment of my youth was unquestionably Doug Coombs' and others' stunts in Aspen Extreme. After watching the film in its entirety a half-dozen times, I remember regularly fast-forwarding to the ski scenes, then rewinding and watching them again.

I love this exchange: "These guys are good Teej." "Yeah, but they're not from Detroit," (what does that mean?) and I love Bob Seger and daffies mid-3. I also get pretty fired up over the TJ/ski patrol chase scene, but skiing icefalls doesn't look like that much fun.

I'm sentimental, but it's the final scene in the film, in addition to TJ's published piece in POWDER that, as a pre-teen, basically solidified what I wanted to do with my life.

That segment has everything a young American could want. An underdog. The defiance of going off course. The redemption for Dexter Rutecki. The rookie stepping up. The rad backscratchers, 360 iron crosses and massive spreads. It has double fist pumps, a score of 40 out of 30 possible points, and the demoralization of the pretentious Euros. I don't play Pogs anymore, and I rarely sing-along with Tina, but the nostalgia of this segment, 20 years later, reminds me of a better time, when I just assumed I'd be the next TJ, or Coombs. – Associate Editor John Clary Davies

Dave Crichton – Forward

Although there were segments that stood out well before Level 1 dropped Forward, Dave Crichton’s opening segment from the film was a game changer. The time-stamped tricks in the intro brought much-needed insight into urban trips and only furthered Crichton’s reputation of being a Canadian animal. When he slams his knee on the switch 270, it feels like game over but then he goes into the best straight-off-the-couch segment of all time. Maybe it’s because I was 16 and naïve but I actually believed Crichton waited around for three months (I had no concept of rehab), stood up one day, and decided to turn the jump (and DL Incognito song) into his personal bitch. It’s like he was saying, “Hey you guys, I’m back. Here’s a zero spin to chew on, a right 3 every professional skier wishes they could do, and the best switch 10 anyone’s ever seen.” Sprinkle in that 180 over the stair set and it’s easy to argue Crichton was ahead of his time in terms of style as well as one of the best park and urban skiers in skiing history. – Managing Editor Mike Rogge

Liam Downey – High Five

By the spring of 2005, I was over college and burnt out on the East Coast. I was hacking my way through my last semester of college in Maine and thinking about heading west. That spring, my roommate found that, with the newfound power of being 21, he could make money (and meet younger girls!) by buying the sophomores in our dorm Natty Light and weed on a margin. I'd come home to find Matt surveying his domain: a crop of bleary-eyed 19-year-old lacrosse players watching Super Troopers on our couch.

One of those guys was a pint-sized loud mouth named Squeak. He lived on our hall and would come over to drink 40s and talk about the Celtics with Matt. Squeak had a friend named Liam who went to school down at Bates. They'd grown up skiing together at Stratton, or somewhere like that. This kid Liam was in a ski movie and Squeak, trying to impress us, brought it over one night.

I'd never heard of Level 1 and I wasn't, and still am not, any kind of park or street skier. But Liam Downey's segment in High Five, Josh Berman's 2004 movie, fascinated me. I'm not really sure why, but I think it was the idea that this person who was in my orbit—a friend of a friend—was a pro skier, and was really doing this skiing thing that I was hoping I was on the cusp of, in a world that I wanted to be a part of. I perma-borrowed the DVD from Squeak and probably watched it a million times.

The last class I had to take to round out my English major was environmental journalism. For our final project we had to make the class look at their environment differently. People wrote stories about the seasons, and lectured about rivers. I rolled a TV into the classroom and made everyone watch Downey's segment. Then I made them write haikus about it. See how unexpectedly he's interacting with his environment? Doesn't that make you question the rural/urban dichotomy? Yes, me too.

I got an A in the class, graduated, and moved to Colorado. I saw Squeak at Matt's wedding last summer. He spent a winter in Steamboat after college, but he broke his leg and headed back east. –Online Editor Heather Hansman

And, just for kicks, the trailer for Teddybear Crisis, because it still stands up.