Skiing and Whiskey, a History Lesson

Jack Conroy | Friday FunFriday Fun
Stave skis, the ultimate marriage of whiskey and skiing. (Photo: Im Salzkammergut)

Throughout the history of skiing, people have never ceased to innovate and find new ways to have fun sliding on snow.  From the first primitive designs used for transportation and hunting to the first metal bindings, the development of the twin tip and the snowboard, camber, rocker, carbon, the list goes on.  However, long before all of these high-tech developments, there were people looking to combine some of their favorite pastimes.

Now, what goes better with skiing than almost anything else in this world? If you thought whiskey then you thought correct!  It keeps you having fun regardless of conditions, warms you up, and keeps you on the mountain longer, because hey, you can’t drive home!

Now, back in the day, there were some folks who decided they wanted to combine these two entities in a more practical manner, and thus Stave Skiing was born.  They would take the wooden planks, or staves used to make the barrels the whiskey was distilled in (or wine if you’re European) and turned them into little skis resembling a wooden snowlerblade.

skiing and whiskey
Ski Resort Pioneer Preston Smith on Stave Skis. (Photo: Bob Perry)

In the States, this practice didn’t last too long.  It had a small resurgence in the ’60s in the great state of Vermont, but aside from that remained a relatively obscure practice.

However, in Austria, there are people who have kept the tradition alive through the years.  In Obertraun, Austria there is an annual Stave Skiing race.  The downhill course is riddled with jumps and obstacles.  Spectators have the joy of watching racers hurl themselves down the mountain on these little planks of wood, often leaving their feet in the pursuit of speed.

Now, if tiny skis made of wooden planks don’t float your boat, don’t worry.  Parlor Skis, a small custom ski company based in Massachusetts, is collaborating with Whistlepig Whiskey, based out of Vermont.  Parlor will be making a limited-edition ski using the Vermont Oak from Whistlepig’s whiskey barrels to construct the sidewalls. More importantly, not only will the ski be named after the awards winning Boss Hog Whiskey, but it will actually come with a bottle of it!  And while it’s not the most accessible ski ($2,000, only 25 pairs) it’s fun to see the tradition of skiing and whiskey being kept alive.

skiing and whiskey
The Boss Hog Ski by Parlor, constructed with staves from WhistlePig Whiskey Barrels. (Photo: Parlor Skis)

So, regardless if you find yourself with a pair of Parlor skis, some makeshift wooden stave skis, or just good old faithful that’s been waiting for snow in the closet, it’s that time of year again.  Time to break out the skis, dust off the bottle and get ready for winter.  The snow is falling people, get out there and have some fun!

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