Cody Townsend, Mt Superior Utah. (photo by Weston Shirey)
While we love good ski porn… there’s something to be said about documentaries. Sure, eating a piece of high-quality cake is amazing, but without a good meal featuring all the courses, you come away lacking something. With the ski season pretty much over across the world as the pandemic runs its course, it’s a perfect time to share some of the best ski documentaries we’ve watched in the past few weeks.
Not just a movie but rather an entire series, this is one of the most interesting ski documentaries we’ve ever watched. Lake Tahoe native Cody Townsend’s quest is to climb and ski all of the lines documented in the iconic book Fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America. Ambitious doesn’t even begin to explain how BIG this endeavor is. NO ONE has come close to completing all of these. Will he be the first? Who knows, but that’s not the best part. It’s the adventure in attempting it, not that he successfully finishes it or not.
Just shy of fifteen minutes long, this satire is exactly what the doctor ordered. A hysterical comedy, it documents an average skier (comedian Katie Burrell) working in the marketing industry, and her attempt to score a “dream job” in the ski industry. Her dry wit and quick one-liners will make you laugh, but it’s much deeper than that. It showcases three of the industry’s biggest names: big mountain extreme skier Christina “Lusti” Lustenberger; Girls Do Ski founder and coach Leah Evans; and Diny Harrison, the first female certified mountain guide in North America.
What can be said about McConkey? Legend. Rad skier. Pioneer. Big personality. Pushing the envelope. Words cannot express how much he shook up the industry in a good way. If you’ve been living under a rock or just want to reminisce, this film is definitely something to watch. A great tribute, it captures his life, death, and legacy along with providing insights from his close friends and family.
Streif: One Hell Of A Ride
In every sport or athletic endeavor, there’s a certain event that’s a measuring stick for past and present champions. In golf, it’s the Masters. For auto racing, it’s Indy. And in skiing, it’s the Hahnenkamm. Just like Augusta Golf Club for Masters, the Streif racecourse contains named features such as Mausefalle, Steilhang, and Hausbergkante. This film tells the story of this legendary downhill run and charts the bravery and fearlessness of those professionals who launch themselves down this icy route.
Edge Of Never
Chamonix and the surrounding peaks are some of the deadliest mountains in the world. On average, more people die per year here in the Mont Blanc range than in a decade in the Alaskan mountain ranges. One of those that perished was legendary big mountain skier Trevor Peterson in ’96. With the guidance of three experienced mentors including Glen Plake, Kye attempts to ski the line that killed his father nearly a decade later.
Snow Day: Life, Death and Skiing
Watching pro skiers send it definitely gets the blood flowing, but what REALLY inspires us is seeing skiers that are still enjoying the slopes in their seventies, eighties, and even nineties. This film documents a crew of age endowed individuals and their decades long tradition to get together and go ski. As their stories begin to come out, you’ll realize that no matter the adversity or hardships, you are never too old to ski! For more motivation to keep-on-getting-on the mountain, check out our article: What’s the Fountain of Youth? Answer: Skiing.
Swift. Silent. Deep.
Most of us may think fraternities only exist on college campuses, but that’s not the case with the Jackson Hole Air Force. This elusive and secretive band of powder hounds that formed in eighties is known for many things. Party hard, ski hard, and even a bit of controversy. No matter what you think of them, they helped foster in the Jackson Hole open boundary policy. This is their story. It features legends such as Warren Miller, Scot Schmidt, and the late Doug Coombs.
As Dogtown and Z-Boys gave us an in-depth look into skateboarding’s re-birth in the mid-70s, Steep does this for big mountain skiing. Starting with the advent of steep descents in the 60s, it charts the progression of big lines including Bill Briggs’ now famous 1st descent of the Grand Teton as well as many other ones from pioneers such as Doug Coombs.
Of course, you can’t go wrong with ski classics like Blizzard of Aahhh’s or a Warren Miller flick. This list of the best ski documentaries will make sure that you learn a little something or at least motivate you through the off season to stay in shape.