I realised that the only film I’d seen with skiing in it was Chalet Girl and whilst this is a shining example of cinematic greatness, I was sure there must be more in the cheesy snow sports genre that I was missing.
STORY BY: Caitlin Kennedy
I’m not going to lie, I managed to break my laptop before I was able to watch as many films as I’d have liked, so this article should probably have a disclaimer clause that whilst these are the top 5 ski films that I have seen, they are also the only 5 ski films I have ever seen. Still they were pretty great. In no particular order:
G.N.A.R. stands for Gaffney’s Numerical Assessment of Radness and is the invention of one of the pioneers of free-skiing, Shane McConkey. His rad skiing and wicked sense of humour fed into this game, which he conceived with his childhood friend Rob Gaffney in their hometown of Squaw valley. Essentially, yes you get points for pulling sweet tricks, but you get a hell of a lot more if you can look like an idiot whilst you’re doing it. You can also lose points, for example by losing your goggles whilst doing a line or getting your pass taken away for being too ridiculous. Ways to win points include over-exaggeratedly pole slapping for a stupidly long time, especially fun when there is zero risk of an avalanche eg on the bus, because hey, you’re off-piste and you can never be too careful. Calling your Mum whilst riding a gnarly line gets you 500 points, and skiing any line butt naked picks up a whopping 5000.
Shane McConkey sadly died base jumping in 2009 and so in his honour an official GNAR tournament was set up, which is the premise of the film. We decided to turn GNAR into a drinking game in which you have to drink every time you hear the word GNAR or gnarly and also when you hear “shit”, which according to the opening credits occurs 79 times. Drink every time you see someone naked, anytime anyone falls over and finally and most importantly every time someone says “I am the best skier on this mountain”. That is a lot of drinking. It was lucky I was taking photos that night, because it meant I could figure out where I’d been and what I’d done the next day. A word of warning: watching this film will turn you into a public menace. Tula and I were telling literally every stranger we saw the whole day afterwards that we were the best skier on the mountain and pole slapping at every opportunity. Eventually we got a bollocking from some nasty old man for being too lary in the Olympic bubble (although to be fair he was correct, we were swearing rather loudly in front of children. As Tula said though, they’re going to hear it sooner or later).
[Editor’s note: I don’t think Caitlin is aware of that fact that for two glorious seasons Val d’Isere was home to its own off-shoot of the Game of G.N.A.R. Sadly, it came to an end due to threats from the authorities. Luckily it came to an end before anyone had formal charges pressed against them, or, you know, died skiing gnarly couloirs while naked and drunk. I showed Caitlin’s predecessor Linda some of the pictures in the archive and I’m pretty sure they broke part of her brain. Actually, that explains a lot. Anyways, here are a coupe of the tamer shots. For the record, that guy skied one of the Fingers with a onepiece around his ankles and the bottle of Jack in hand. Also, at the time that chair was in a much more public location than Dicks toilets.]
Hotdog… The Movie.
This is Kene’s favourite ski film of all time. I’m not sure whether this has anything to do with the copious amount of boobs on show throughout the film. At times it verges on softcore porn. Putting aside its questionable treatment of women- essentially every time you see a woman in this film, she has to get naked- this film is fucking funny. It is in the category of films that are so bad they’re good, so don’t let its 4.7/10 IMDb score put you off. If you’re a fan of terrible German accents, god-awful knitted jumpers and ski ballet, it’ll be right up your street. It has an amazing scene of the Chinese downhill, where 100 skiiers have to get to the bottom of the mountain to determine who really is the best freestyle skier.
The Crash Reel
This film doesn’t fit into the cheesy but hilarious genre but it is a fantastic documentary. It had me in tears, which, granted doesn’t take much, but it is honestly such a moving piece of cinema, as well as being beautifully filmed. The film follows Kevin Pearce, who was one of the top freestyle snowboarders in the world, after his life-changing fall, which resulted in severe brain damage. His brother decided to film his journey to recovery so that he could see his improvement. It’s devastating to see him having to come to terms with the fact that he is no longer going to be able to do the thing in life that he loves the most. But also pretty amazing what he is able to re-learn due to the brain’s remarkable ability to fix itself. It’s incredibly interesting to see the way brain damage affects various faculties; not just his movement and coordination, but also personality. Kevin has now set up a charity, which aims to help improve the quality of life for those who have suffered severe head injuries.
Better Off Dead
OK there are actually only 3 skiing scenes in this film, but it is so unbelievably funny, it had to go on this list. My favourite line: (about the blue slop on a plate that is presented to him by his wife) “I know it’s bacon but what in the name of all that is holy have you done to it?”. “You said you didn’t like all the grease… so I boiled it”. I’m pretty sure everyone in my building could hear me cracking up. It’s one of John Cusack’s earliest films and as the title suggests, the comedy is at times quite dark, which is right up my street and at other times unbelievably weird. When Lane, the central character’s love interest is insulted by the captain of the ski team, he challenges him to a race down K12, the hardest line on the mountain, the only logical way to settle an argument.
Hot Tub Time Machine
John Cusack gets a second shout out on this list for this utterly ridiculous film in which 3 friends get transported back to an 80s ski resort that they went to in their younger, happier days. They have to live out the exact same things they originally did, in order to prevent the butterfly effect from fucking up the whole fabric of the space-time continuum, in Back to the Future speak. Chaos ensues. It’s probably the only film in which someone is sick on a squirrel. That has to count for something. Somehow they managed to draw it out and make a sequel. I didn’t watch it. I’m sure it’s as insightful and thought-provoking as the original though.
[Editor’s note: Caitlin’s list has a few glaring omissions that I will correct next week.]