Uncover Colorado defines a ski bum as “A person who moves to a ski town, takes up just enough employment to pay for their skiing habit, and lives to ski 100+ days per season. Some last a season, others stick around for life. There’s an art to ski bumming. Ski bums are often lifties and other resort workers during the winter, and find a different seasonal job in the summer. Some are said to be ‘living in a van down by the river.’” I believe the ski bum aesthetic runs deeper than some might seem and I’ll be diving into that in this post, focusing on a group called “Pork Frat”. Ski bum culture revolves around very unique clothing, lifestyle, filming techniques, and an overall devotion to the sport.
The clothing is usually baggy hoodies and snow pants, often ripped or tattered, allowing for optimal flow and movement in the air while displaying their commitment to their craft. The baggy clothing serves to cover up any imbalances when doing air tricks making them look much smoother. The ski bum lifestyle is often financed by the riders working as lifties (ski lift operators) at their local mountain.
It is a frugal and fulfilling life of energy drinks and dirty ski cars outfitted with ski racks and storage bins, riding or working during the day, and finishing off with some après ski beverages.
A more specific area of this culture that I really appreciate are the amateur ski edits filmed and produced by the riders, boasting a highly creative and erratic style of videography, reflective of the lifestyle of the subjects of the videos. One group called “Pork Frat” made up of a group of CU students in 2014-2016 perfectly encompasses this aesthetic in their videos. Their lifestyle is admirable and somewhat relatable as a CU student, especially if you ski or snowboard, and their videos are creative and comedic enough to gain the attention of a much broader fan base. They were even sponsored at the time by Saga Outerwear and Runa Energy Drinks at the time, both brands conducive to the lifestyle.
I wanted to finish off with two of my favorite screen grabs from some of the Pork Frat members’ Instagram pages as they truly capture the art of ski edits and the riders that create them. The creativity in choice of urban or “street” locations, the baggy and unorthodox outfits, and the labor required to build landings or jumps is very impressive and speaks to the art of the aesthetic. In the first picture, the rider flies off a man-made jump and presses the tips of his skis on a tree branch while mid air, a feat as dangerous as it is captivating. In the second picture, my personal favorite, the rider is seen dropping off the roof of New Vista High School here in Boulder. This video left me in awe as the jump succeeded and left me asking how they thought of the idea, and how they managed to execute it successfully. While this lifestyle is definitely unorthodox and not for everyone, the consistencies regardless of location or upbringing are what make this aesthetic so fascinating to me.
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