Après-Ski, Then and Now
“It opens around 3:30, and by 4:00 people are dancing on the tables. Every day.”
I had asked Kurt for his take on the ultimate après-ski scene from what he’s seen in Europe.
He made a noise that made it clear there was only one answer. It came fast and decisive: Austria.
St. Anton has the biggest global reputation, but Austria in general has earned the crown of ultimate dedication to the party.
I mean, if you invented the shot-ski you’re going places, right?
Actually skiing the slopes is a requirement, of course, but really, it’s a means to an end.
From sleek and sophisticated to downright debaucherous, the Austrians just OWN après.
If you don’t end up dancing on the table with your ski boots on, you’re just not doing it right.
But while Austrian après-ski surely produces more than its share of wild stories, I was hoping to find something more… unusual about the tradition. Something that would surprise me.
So we know that the Austrians perfected it, but did you know that the Norwegians started it?
Celebratory food and drink post-skiing became a custom in Norway back in the late 19th century – it moved from people’s homes to the first ski clubs.
Back in those days it was all mulled wine, wooden skis, and (I have to assume) amazing sweaters.
It functioned not only as a way to gather, imbibe and share the spirit(s), but also a method of counting heads, making sure the crew all got home safe.
From there the next big development was in Chamonix, where the French coined the name for what we all know and love.
Next, the Americans found their après rhythm in the early 20th century.
Then, in Sun Valley, Idaho in the 1930s, I found my après-ski unicorn.
“You put your right foot in…
“You take your right foot out…
“You put your right foot in,
and you shake it all about.”
You know that iconic song and dance for little kids, the Hokey Pokey?
Well, the kids got it second-hand.
That’s right: It was made for après-ski. The evidence:
And you thought the Macarena was yesterday’s news. Gotta love those sweaters and slacks.
I know it kind of looks like a conga line, but the delightfully well-documented truth is stranger than fiction.
Just when you thought skiing couldn’t bestow and MORE good things unto the world.
From duct tape to diamonds, there’s never been one uniform for après-ski.
The only thing that never changes is the reason we celebrate. Fresh mountain air, the need for speed, and the common bond we share: the love of skiing and riding.
Nothing makes beer taste better. Nothing makes the Hokey Pokey feel more right.
Though it’s a long ways from Austria, we’ve been enjoying triumphant post-heli-ski refreshment at the Winston Bar and Bistro, found in the beautiful and rustic Winston Lodge, our meeting point each day. It’s home to Golden’s very own beer Whitetooth Brewing, most of the local ski hill crowd by 4:00pm and regular live music. We highly recommend it.
And if you want to bring back the Hokey Pokey, so things come full circle, just promise to send me a picture.
Want to make sure you turn up for Après-Ski having triumphantly slayed the slopes? Check out our guide to picking the right package for your ability next.
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