Après ski ...

Après ski is a skiing tradition and institution worldwide.  It is an event of recognized notoriety even outside the skier community, but what is it exactly?

Some of the published definitions of après ski are, ranked from simplest and most direct to, perhaps, most common:

Merriam-Webster:  social activity (as at a ski lodge) after a day's skiing.

The Cambridge Dictionary:  social activities that take place in the evening at hotels and restaurants in places where people go to ski.

definitions.net:  Après-ski refers to going out, having drinks, dancing, and generally socializing after skiing.  It is popular in the Alps, where skiers often stop at bars on their last run of the day while still wearing all their ski gear.  The concept is similar to the nineteenth hole in golf.  This can also happen anywhere in the world where there is snow.

The Urban Dictionary defines après ski as:  when you have just awoken from a nap after shredding all day and your main intention is to get hammered, dance naked on tables to Baywatch theme in clubs and wake up in a confusing location.  Après ski is not necessarily confined to the evening and can, in fact, continued throughout the next day in conveniently placed bars on the piste.

Hankin Mountain:  Après ski is the act of getting drunk on the mountain after finishing skiing or snowboarding for the day.  Après ski can involve tailgating, sitting at the bar in the lodge, drinking beers on the deck, or pounding a flask at the bottom of the last run.  Après ski typically takes place at the end of the day, but is acceptable any time while on the mountain, in many cases even in the morning before the lifts open.  “What happened last night?” “Don’t remember, that was one crazy après ski”

From the simplest gathering of ski compadres after a day of skiing to the most elegant and sophisticated displays, après ski is recognized as a social institution of skiing style.  It even invites fashion commentary; to quote Vogue magazine:

“In thinking of slick après-ski movie scenes, one might look to the Bond franchise or perhaps Robert Redford in his sports drama Downhill Racer.  But it’s 1963’s The Pink Panther, the comedy caper that launched a franchise, that delivers the best in swanky ski style. …

Set in Cortina d’Ampezzo, a ski town in the Southern Dolomite Alps, the film showcases characters sitting fireside in elegant V-neck sweaters that look sculpted rather than knitted.  Swaths of fur trim their coats and they wear layers that look anything but bulky. Two of the characters, in particular, stand out for their wardrobes - the Princess Dala (played by Claudia Cardinale) and her antagonist Simone Clouseau, played by a French model and actress so chic she only needed one to go by one name, Capucine.  Both were dressed by Mr. Yves Saint Laurent and the designer even made Cardinale a couple of dresses especially for the film.  Sketches for the luxuriously beaded, sherbet-colored gown she wears in the film’s promotional imagery can be seen online at the Musée YSL.

Even the men, David Niven (as Sir Charles Lytton, the infamous jewel thief), Peter Sellers (the bumbling inspector Jacques Clouseau) and Robert Wagner (as George Lytton, the handsome con artist), wear looks worth lauding.  They’re seen in striped Cricket sweaters and wool coats with a Tyrolean feel. …”

Lilah Ramzi, “Taking Inspiration From 1963’s The Pink Panther, the Ultimate in Après Ski Style,” Vogue (January 13, 2021)

You can watch the famous "Meglio Stasera" après ski scene from The Pink Panther at

Après ski sartorial elegance today is commonly measured by the technical sophistication of the ski wear … are you wearing the latest high-tech fashion?  That après ski elegance of old lives on is evidenced by the continuing success of Gorsuch (Vail, Aspen, Park City, Beaver Creek, Snowmass).  The Gorsuch catalog is as much of a skiing tradition as a Warren Miller film.

I have a fluorescent lime green, hot pink and yellow Nevica ski jacket; I no longer wear it skiing, only après ski.  It is still one of the warmest ski jackets I have ever owned.  Founded in 1978, Nevica became the first brand to introduce a range of technical advances in ski wear, leading the way in waterproof and breathable fabrics.  Nevica's extensive use of fluorescent fabrics set the trend in skiwear throughout the 1980's and 1990's, and later shot to fame in the 1990's for sponsoring the British Olympic ski team for over a decade. 

I was walking along Gore Creek Drive very near Gorsuch in Vail when I was excitedly approached by a 20-something woman.  “That jacket is so rad; where did you get it?”  I explained that I purchased it at Squaw Valley at the end of the season for $25, and that the jacket was considerably older than she was.  Undaunted, she said, “Sell it to me.  I’ll give you $500.”  Sorry to disappoint her, but I could not part with a piece of my skiing history.  More than once have I been greeted in ski area restaurants with, “welcome back, sir.  Sorry, I do not remember your name, but I remember that jacket.”

Speaking of movies, an amazing number of movies have included ski scenes.  I counted over 170 mainstream movies going back as far as 1908.  That list did not include the great Warren Miller flicks; I guess Warren is not considered “mainstream” outside the skiing community.  Back when, Warren would sit on the stage at a card table and live narrate the movie.  An evening with Warren was an enthusiastically anticipated hallmark of the approaching ski season.

There was even a 1971 Canadian movie entitled “Après Ski,” whose name was changed to “Sex in the Snow.”

  • Trois instructeurs de ski sont plus occupés à accumuler les conquêtes amoureuses qu'à donner des leçons ils passent donc plus de temps au lit que sur les pentes.  Le curé de la paroisse Saint-Roch, monseigneur Raymond Lavoie, dépose une plainte pour obscénité et fait saisir le film par la police municipale en avril 1971.  Le propriétaire du cinéma Capitol est traîné devant les tribunaux accusé d'avoir présenté un spectacle immoral, indécent et obscène.

  • Three ski instructors are more occupied with accumulating love conquests than giving lessons, so they spend more time in bed than on the slopes.  The parish priest of Saint-Roch, Monsignor Raymond Lavoie, lodged a complaint for obscenity and had the film seized by the municipal police in April 1971.  The owner of the Capitol cinema was taken to court accused of having presented an immoral spectacle, indecent and obscene.

By the way, if you have not watched Afterglow, you have missed a stunning ethereal ski experience … great music too.  

Watch après ski; experience intense desire to go ski.

We had hired a guide in Zermatt Switzerland, Richard (“Re ... chard”).  After spending all day tearing across Riffelalp and Gornergrat, Richard suggested après ski at Restaurant Whymper-Stube for raclette, to which we readily agreed.  First delivered to the table were tankards of Cardinal (“Car … din … al”), a wonderful Swiss bier.  Yes, beer after a hard day of skiing tastes really, really good.  Next came a wicker basket containing boiled new potatoes, cornichons, pickled onions and chunks of baguette.  A few minutes later the server arrived wearing oven mitts and carrying a steel steamer that contained half a wheel of melted raclette cheese from which she poured over the potatoes, cornichons, onions and baguette on each plate.  Uuuuummmm great!!!

The problem with most après ski is it ruins your dinner.  We were staying at the Mount Cervin Palace hotel where dinner was included in the room price.  After raclette and a couple beers it was painful to dress for dinner; women had to be in dresses or skirts, men in jacket and tie.  We were late in meeting Richard the next morning, but that’s another story.

Après ski is not restricted to adults.  At Whistler my son discovered crepes with fresh strawberries and cream for après ski; at his age his dinner appetite was not diminished.

Meanwhile, in Vail après ski often takes place at Garfinkel’s (Garf’s) for nachos … tri-color corn chips, black beans, melted cheese, green onions, diced tomatoes, jalapeños, guacamole, sour cream and salsa; chicken, beef or combination; we have demonstrated more than once that it is impossible for two people to eat it all.  Of course, the beer adds to being full; deciding which is the problem:

… draft … Peroni Pale Lager, Coors Light, Pacifico Lager, Colorado Native Amber, Mountain Time Craft Lager, Blue Moon Wheat, Sierra Nevada Hazy IPA, Tommy Knocker Blood Orange IPA, Founders All Day IPA, New Belgium Voodoo Ranger IPA, Firestone Nitro Merlin Milk Stout, Bootstrap Brewing Pale Ale … or bottled Colorado craft beer … Dales Pale Ale, Tivoli Mile Hi Hefe, Avery White Rascal, Denver Brewing Co. Tart Delight, 4 Noses About Damn Time IPA, 4 Noses Raspberry Blonde, Fat Tire, Telluride Face Down Brown, CO Native West Slope IPA, Elevation Little Mo' Porter, Holiday Favorite Blonde (gluten free).  

You have not enjoyed extended après ski until you have visited The Wobbly Barn at Killington, great food and live music.  You go for après ski and end up staying for dinner, the music and dancing.

Yes, beer after skiing in the US tastes every bit as good as it does in Switzerland.  Unfortunately, the myth of its magical restorative powers has been thoroughly debunked.  "Having a beer after a workout is not hugely detrimental as long as it's with water and food, but it is absolutely not positive or beneficial," says Hana Abdulaziz Feeney, R.D., founder of Nourishing Results, a functional nutrition private practice in Tucson, Arizona.

Notwithstanding, after a wonderful day of skiing Stan, Rich, Brad and I wandered into the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek to find that the lobby bar had Franziskaner Hefe-weiße on tap.  Beer from a keg tastes better than from a bottle.  Say no more, let happy hour commence; I’m not the one driving.

Rich and I were at Snowbird and watched a skier launch off the peak in a hang glider, first one we had ever seen.  We watched him glide to a landing near the Cliff Lodge; we had to meet this daredevil and did so during après ski.  Even through our excitement and the beers I remember his sage advice, “never fly higher than you’re willing to fall.”  Back in Southern California I signed up for hang-gliding lessons at the beach.  When I stalled out at six feet and hit the sand, hard, my extremely short hang-gliding career came to an end.  Après ski can be educational if you remember it.

Back at the condominium everyone is tired and hungry.  What’s quick, easy and fun to get everyone through their showers and ready for a relaxing dinner.  How about a piquant olive tapenade from Provence! You can make it early and have it ready in the refrigerator. Add libation as desired.

1 cup   pitted kalamata olives

1 cup   pitted green olives

1 cup   pitted oil-cured olives (the kind you find bottled). (If you cannot find oil-cured olives, just add a tablespoon of olive oil to the food processor with additional green or kalamata olives.)

2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley (how much is this for real, take a few branches and chop the leaves, call it a tablespoon) or ½ tablespoon dried parsley flakes

2 tablespoons fresh or 1 tablespoon dried thyme (same admonition for the fresh thyme as the parsley)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3-4       anchovy fillets (optional, but they really add a lot of flavor)

2 cloves garlic, chopped

Pepper to taste

Baguette slices

Olive oil

Combine all ingredients except the baguette slices and olive oil in a food processor.  Pulse until olives are finely chopped.  Cut the baguette into thin slices, brush with olive oil, and briefly toast under the broiler (about a minute, keep watch).  Top with tapenade and serve.  

Profitez de votre après-ski; goditi il tuo apres ski; genieße deinen Apres Ski; enjoy your après ski!!!