Eye of the Tiger

First Tracks

Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.

“If you’re schussing at Aspen or swinging at Stowe and suddenly get the ridiculous notion there’s a tiger on your flank, stay loose. It’s probably just a member of a Single Ski Club, a growing, peripatetic group which has adopted the tiger shirt as its blazon.”

-Skiing Magazine, Bob O’Brien, November 1967

No, we didn’t make that up. when the tigers roamed north America’s high country 36 years ago, ski partying was so macho that guys proclaimed their abundant testosterone with costumes.

Fast-forward to April 2003: It’s a rainy night (surprise!) in Whistler, the most extreme party resort in North America. From Maxx Fish to the Savage Beagle to Tommy Africa’s, an anything-goes vibe permeates the place.

There isn’t a single tiger to be seen-but the town is crawling with cougars. From bar to bar, the girls are leading the party charge while the men hover, secretly begging to be dragged into the fray. At the Beagle, a tall brunette with inch-long eyelashes and runway cheekbones drags a lanky and fairly famous freeskier onto the dance floor. His surprise turns to dancing angst and then infatuation, all in the span of two minutes.

The scene is right in line with a short film called Weekend Warrior, produced by local freeskier and go-go dancing legend Ace Mackay-Smith. The lead characters? A Barbie doll and a Ken doll. The theme? Barbie rules: An egocentric weekend warrior (Ken) gets his plastic ass handed to him, first on the hill and later in the bar. (Check it out at

While the women now run the show in Whistler, the National Brotherhood of Skiers (see “The Brotherhood’s Big Bash,”) and the members of the International Gay and Lesbian Snowsports Association have taken the party worldwide. These folks can turn a Ski Cooper into a Whistler just by showing up. They’re model skiing citizens with a common voice (loud) and common causes (charity, partying). What’s not to like?

All of which leaves me wondering: Where are all the straight white guys? Hanging out in a cabin at Alta watching their socks dry? Put on a tiger suit if you must, just remember that skiing is a pursuit of passion, both on and off the hill. So long as there’s the Warm Springs Quad at Sun Valley, the Wobbly Barn at Killington, and hot tubs everywhere in between, skiers have no need for, speed dating, or The Bachelorette.

Get together, “stay loose,” and get out there.