You and your skis go way back. They were there for you when no one else was. Sure, maybe that’s because you ditched your beginner friends to ski the blacks—no judgment. Or perhaps it was a short-lived relationship: You got up the chairlift but fell as soon as you disembarked—and that was enough. Whatever it might be, as the ski season comes to a close at places such as Copper Mountain (April 16), Breckenridge (April 23), and Vail (April 23), skiers and snowboarders are finding an alternate use for their discarded planks.
Something like, well, the shot-ski.
Shot-skis have become a traditional part of the après-ski culture—which is just a fancy way to describe the comparatively non-fancy activities such as drinking, eating, dancing, and whatever else follows a day on the slopes—for a while. Surprisingly, though, the origin of the shot-ski is unknown. Perhaps it has something to do with the hazy memories that tend to follow a night of binge drinking, but none of the European skiers, college ski clubs, or even Midwestern water-skiers have provided evidence that they are responsible for the trend.
David Paulick, a partner at Wisconsin-based shot-ski.com, put it this way: “There are probably as many stories about the shot-ski’s origin as there are people telling them,” he says.
Regardless of how it began, the shot-ski quickly became a staple in Colorado’s mountain villages. Breckenridge currently holds the world-record for the longest shot-ski—they attached hundreds of skis and covered 1,997 feet. Vail’s Blü Cow boasts a massive 265 centimeters-long ski that was given to them by four-time Olympian Todd Lodwick. Out in Snowmass, anyone looking to imbibe pretty much any kind of booze via shot-ski can do so at regular bars, a barbecue joint, a tequila bar, or even the New Belgium Ranger Station.
Adam Vernon, the owner of Colorado Ski Furniture, thinks the idea was born out of the camaraderie that’s built into skiing. “Most people don’t ski alone,” he says. “[The shot-ski] is kind of a fun, team-sport type of thing.” It’s also something that’s uniquely associated with mountain towns, even as the popularity of the shot-ski has expanded all over the country. That connection to the après ski culture, Snowmass’ Sara Stookey says, is ingrained in the identity of this imbibing device.
Twelve years ago, shot-ski.com began commercializing the shot-ski. Since that time, Paulick says they’ve sold “seven to eight thousand shot-skis,” and the majority of sales have come in the past couple years. Vernon, too, has seen a recent growth in interest from liquor companies, breweries, bars, and individuals who request special shot-skis for social gatherings such as weddings or birthday parties. It’s not just skis, either. Shot glasses have been attached to snowboards, hockey sticks, and even golf clubs.
Businesses such as Colorado Ski Furniture or shot-ski.com make and ship shot-skis all over the nation. Colorado Ski Furniture specializes in custom, hand-painted shot-skis, but those looking to make their own might want to check out shot-ski.com’s assembly kits. Check it out if you’re interested, but you also might want to ask your neighbor if they have one—who knows, they might ask you to join.