Travel

11 ways skiing was totally different in the '80s

If you stop to think about it, the '80s really were America's heyday. Flying wasn't the worst part of the holiday season, people weren't wrapped up in social media, and rock stars sang songs about strip clubs, instead of the fall of Pompeii.

But for all the awesomeness of the decade, you gotta admit that some things are vastly better today. Like the quality of the food in said strip clubs. And skiing. Seriously, there was a time when getting to the top of the mountain took longer than reaching the bottom. Oh, the humanity.

That's not all, though. Let's get in the wayback machine and take a look at 11 ways skiing was different in the '80s. 

Chair lifts were slow. Real slow.

It's nice how high-speed quads get you to the top of a mile-long run in like five minutes. It used to take 25, which, when combined with longer wait times at the bottom, made skiing on a holiday weekend pretty much a colder version of going to Disneyworld.

Rope tows

And the smaller runs didn't even have chair lifts. They had these things, which were basically ropes with pulleys that you held onto for dear life because nobody wanted to be "that guy" who lost his grip and went crashing into the entire row of people behind him.


Lift tickets were cheap...er

Big resorts on the weekends still weren't a bargain, but the idea of a $100 lift ticket was downright offensive. And if you wanted to skip school to ski during the week, you could get on some mountains for $5. Today, that won't even get you a bottle of Aquafina.
 

There were tons of tiny mom-and-pop ski hills

Of course, those $5 lift tickets were typically at small resorts, located off roads only locals knew about and that were probably owned by the same people working the chairlifts -- OK, who are we kidding, the rope tows. It wasn't exactly world-class skiing, but much like megastores have replaced small independent retailers, mega-resorts forced out the little guys.

There weren't many snowboarders

The word "pow" was pretty much only used to describe the sound you made when hitting a tree, and if someone said they were "Shredding the gnar" this weekend, you assumed they were cooking with some kind of crazy exotic cheese.

Terrain parks didn't exist

No snowboarders also meant that resorts didn't have entire areas devoted to snowbound obstacle courses. The only time you got to try any tricks was when you went off course and found some cliffs, or got really creative with the moguls.


Lodges barely had food

Now you can snowplow right into a ski-up Starbucks at the end of your run, or spend the second half of the day sipping craft beers in an Irish pub. In the '80s, they still charged you $12 for a burger and fries, but you got food that was pretty much on par with what they served at finer public school cafeterias.

Skis looked more like chopsticks with bindings

Though we'd already moved safely out of the wood-ski era, the big head you see now that cuts through powder didn't make it to the masses until the '90s. Skis were also longer, which made falls in thick snow look even more like a really tragic episode of 'Airwolf'.


You had to step up to the chairlift

You ever notice how the queue to get on the chairlift takes you right up to that red line, no matter how much snow is on the ground? That's not magic -- the towers can adjust their height accordingly. That wasn't always the case, though; if the snow wasn't good you had to climb steps to get to the loading zone, usually side-stepping awkwardly with your skis on.

Ski suits were skin tight

And not everyone made them look as good as Ned Flanders. Parkas and stretch pants were all the rage, making the line for the chairlift look kinda like the check-out at Walmart.


There were no goggles, only Vuarnets

Ski goggles were the domain of the pros, so instead, all the really good skiers rocked a fresh pair of Vuarnets. Or, more accurately, all the really good skiers, but mostly the people who could barely make it down a blue run and blamed their 14 falls -- like people blamed so many things in the '80s -- on "bad snow".