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I’d like to think “aprés ski” started with Ernest Hemingway. As both an avid skier and an even more avid drinker, it only seems natural that such a beautiful occasion could stem from such a beloved author who never turned down a drink whether it was morning, noon, or night.
In 1964’s A Moveable Feast, he wrote about his (and his friend’s) skiing experiences which vary heavily from mine.
“Walther Lent believed the fun of skiing was to get up into the highest mountain country where there was no one else and where the snow was untracked and then travel from one high Alpine Club hut to another over the top passes and glaciers of the Alps. You must not have a binding that could break your leg if you fell. The ski should come off before it broke your leg. What he really loved was unroped glacier skiing, but for that we had to wait until spring when the crevasses were sufficiently covered.”
My skiing schedule is nothing like Ernest’s. It’s less hiking and more chairlifts, and less broken legs and more making sure the hottest girls on the mountain see me shred as hard as humanly possible before I go into the local pub and order a tall pitcher of Canadian beer. Hemingway would probably laugh in my face for being a bougie little bitch, along with the rest of us. After all, now instead of fixing each other’s legs, The National Ski Patrol has become more prominent, and it’s now looked down upon to drink hard liquor in the morning which has made skiing generally safer.
Many people are unfamiliar with the term “aprés ski.” It comes from the French word “aprés” which specifies “after,” and “ski” which is defined as using “each of a pair of long narrow pieces of hard flexible material, typically pointed and turned up at the front, fastened under the feet for gliding over snow.” Or, you know, fucking skiing. So when you combine the two, we have the term “aprés ski” which means “get hammered in all of your ski gear.”
If you don’t know me and/or have never been skiing, just imagine I look like this:
Pretty radtacular, right? I know, I’m an incredibly sick skier.
Anyway, after a long day of arcing fatties in the ‘roy, you get rewarded with being able to go to the nearest local bar in all your garb only to unbuckle your boots while tasting one of the finest Bronsons you’ve ever tasted. No matter how you dice it, skiing is a wildly uncomfortable venture. The boots? They’re stiff. The long underwear? Restricting. The headwear? Really messes with the flow. The weather itself? Inherently cold as fuck.
When you clip-clop into the bar in your boots before stripping off hundreds of dollars of layers, you roll up to the barkeep where he slides you a frosty stein that’s destined for an ice-cold lager. And even though that beer is cold, it’s still warmer than the conditions you just emerged from. Sideways snow, air that would make Jack Frost shudder, and altitude that’ll make your head spin.
“Why would you put yourself through this, Will? Is it all worth it?” you may ask. Of course, it’s fucking worth it. When it’s all said and done, you got a high-octane workout that results in you looking like this once you hit the bar:
We live in a world where people spend hours preparing themselves to go out. Girls are pretty much She’s All That‘ing themselves in order to go to a club, cozie up with some dudes in order to get a hit of their bottle, and then go home passing out in their makeup that will eventually make them break out by morning. Aprés ski is a reprieve from the charade that is today’s nightlife scene.
Your little black dress is a pair of bibs. Your blouse is a Patagonia pullover. Your stilettos are a chunky pair of socks crammed in a pair of plastic boots. And your time getting ready is spent laying down some figure eights in some powder (snow, not cocaine). Aprés ski embraces the casualness of a vacation with the memories of a Friday night. Get some vintage gear, an expensive pair of shades, and become the happy hour hero you’ve always been destined to be. Hell, I’d much rather put on a bunch of ski gear as opposed to an ill-fitting pair of jeans that makes me muffin top and a button down shirt that I’m just going to sweat through.
Fast Time At Ridgemont High‘s Jeff Spicoli once said, “Just give me some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I’m fine.” Well, once you venture north, those waves turn into ski slopes but everything else remains pretty much the same. When you’re sitting there after a long day, all you see is ice-caked beards, wide smiles, and a bunch of accomplished people who earned their keep.
Just as with skiing itself, sure, you’ll have some spills. But whether you’re in Aspen, Michigan, Canada, or the Northeast, you’ll find an aprés ski community worthy of calling home about. Everyone will come together from different paths of life and different home resorts all for that one crown jewel — a frosty post-ski beer.
And if you’re lucky? There’ll be an old-time guitar player there putting down some “Brown Eyed Girl” too. .