The Appeal Of ‘80s Ski Films

How the Era Glorified Skiing in Its Own Odd Way

With so many different sitcoms today and all manner of comedy films that tackle everything from talking food items to the end of days, its hard to forget that there was a time when teen films were really genre heavy. That genre oddly was ski based. You might be thinking “Ski-based that is not a genre of film” and yet the chronicle of 80’s comedies clearly disagree. Skiing and snow sports blew up in the 80’s to a level never before seen as the snow-covered slopes became the go to location for one radical ski adventure after another. But the real question is why?

The Surf Bubble Burst

Cemented by the arrival of the beach boys in the ‘60s surf culture was seen to be the coolest of all sports. Sun soaked washboard abs and long blonde-haired bros paraded around the beaches with their own language keen to get amongst the power of mother nature as they brave the dangerous power of the sea, or something like that. Whether you liked surf culture or not it had a good run that went well into the ‘80s itself, but by this time people were a little tired of the same rhetoric and had already seen the gnarliest waves by now.

Great Marketing

By the ‘80s America’s companies had almost become the brain changing, all powerful overseers that they are today, meaning that they began to embrace each and every opportunity to sell their products. It seems that ski resorts and the entire snow sports scene decided to buy in on diverting people away from the coasts and into the mountains. In an era of product placement, sticky fashion and complex media marketing tactics it doesn’t seem out of the question that much of this was brought on to make more money in what was previously a niche market.

Great Marketing
Great Marketing

Sexual Overtone

When you watch one of these films it isn’t difficult to whittle down the plot to some very basic repeated structures that were used over and over again. Much like the surfing movie hits the real pull wasn’t the environment but the girls. Pretty much every ski comedy of this era is solely about the protagonist ‘getting laid’ meanwhile there is some minor dependence on winning a ski competition in order to achieve this goal. The clear sexism of the ‘80s shines bright in these male orientated sports films where girls are as promiscuous as they are shallow; and more questionably blessed with model like beauty. It was clearly part of the overall scheme to make teens boys think ski slopes were full of gorgeous girls, similarly only in the ‘80s could you successfully swap out bikinis for oversized, garish ski costumes and somehow increase the attractiveness of the wearer.

Sexual Overtone
Sexual Overtone

The odd and now perplexing convention of ski movies has been mocked multiple times, probably most successfully by shows like South Park and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Thankfully comedies are getting a little more complex than ‘win competition, get the girl’ but it has meant that skiing has had the spotlight removed. Though if you’d like to step back to a simpler time when a ski holiday guaranteed hot chicks, slapstick with snow and high stakes competition you know where to find it.