Ski Patrol vs. Ski School: A Showdown on the Slopes

Let’s hearken back to the early days of the 1990s, in which we were treated to not one, but two legendary (or legendarily bad?) films of the skiing persuasion.  Of course, we’re talking about Ski Patrol and Ski School.  

Ski Patrol (1990) follows the misadventures of a ragtag group of ski patrollers at the struggling Snowy Peaks Ski Resort. When the resort is threatened by a rival developer, the quirky team must use unconventional methods to save their beloved mountain.  And you better believe hijinks ensue!

Ski School (1991) takes us to the Horizon Ski School, where the instructors are as skilled at partying as they are at carving down the slopes!  The party animal section of the school must face off with the buttoned-up bro section in an end of the season competition.  And you better believe hijinks ensue! 

Both feature evil villains, eye-popping ski stunts, and neon snow suits galore…but which frosty flick is the true king of the slopes?  We’ve consulted with leading scientists in the field.  Read on to see how each film scores across these five categories: Style, Acting Skills, Skiing Skills, Villainy, and, of course, Best Party!


If neon snow suits are your thing, both of these movies are a veritable feast for the eyes!  Let's take a peep at some of the highlights and lowlights:

a group of people in neon snow suits walking up a snowy hill
Ski Patrol: A neon highlighter bouquet of fun, yet functional looks!

a man and a woman are outside on a snowy mountain, both wearing warm snowsuits
Ski Patrol:  These looks are solid, yet unremarkable.   

man wears a headband with two extra faces attached to it, outside on a snowy hill
Ski Patrol:  No, you're not seeing triple!  This, ahem, "innovative" look is indeed, a headband with two additional faces affixed to it.  We're giving this look a WTF out of 10.  

 a group of skiiers wear neon snow suits in the movie ski school
Ski School: Here we see a variety of ski ensembles, exemplifying the best of the era, from neon extravaganza, to slim sporty silhouette, to dirtbag.  

a woman wears a stylish silver and black snow jacket with shades
Ski School: Now this look is fierce, no shade!

Ski School: I demand an explanation for this white turtleneck/perplexing hair shape situation.  However, we would like to nominate these bold brows as best supporting actors.  

Overall scores:
Ski Patrol: 7/10
Ski School: 8/10 

Acting Skills

a ski patroller talks to two women on a ski lift
Ski Patrol: Roger Rose "stars" as the largely forgettable and uncharismatic ski patroller, Jerry Cramer.  

Actor Leslie Jordan wearing ski patrol suit
Ski Patrol: NGL, we love to watch Leslie Jordan do, well, anything!  Here he plays head ski patroller Murray, and survives a cavalcade of pranks.

a man holds a puppet
Ski Patrol:  Sean Sullivan plays Suicide, described elsewhere as "one of the worst characters in one of the worst motion pictures of all time."  While his gonzo slapstick stylings fall flat on their face(s), we'll tip our ski cap to the technical undertaking of performing prop comedy while skiing. 

man dances enthusiastically in bar

man dressed in drag wearing a tina turner style wig and black tank dress
Ski Patrol:
Paul Feig (who would go on to direct Ghostbusters, Bridesmaids, and other hit films), takes a somewhat interesting turn as Stanley, whose performance includes an unforgettable dance scene, and this Tina Turner inspired ensemble.  We'll award him an honorable mention out of 10 based on enthusiasm alone.

a group of young men all wearing sweatshirts
Ski School:  Dean Cameron, as totally awesome skiier-slash-party-animal Dave Marshak, gives a performance as nuanced as it is deep.  Take that as you will.

a group of people are outside in the snow and cheer for a ski race
Ski School: One discerning critic described Ski School as a "brain-cell-destroying debacle," and we tend to agree (we are also quite discerning here at FIC).  However, what the critic failed to mention, is that destroying brain cells is typically a whole lot of fun.  

Overall Scores:
Ski Patrol: 4/10
Ski School: 2/10

Skiing Skills

It's incredible how much the performances improve when the actors stop talking, and start skiing!  This goes for both vehicles.  Let's zoom and enhance, shall we? 

three people doing ski jumps at the same time

a hot dog stand falls down a snowy hill

two skiiers race down a hill
Ski Patrol: Shot across the snowy slopes of Park City and Snowbird, Utah, Patrol offers us some flips, a hot dog stand on the loose, and a rather lackluster chase scene.  

 a skiier takes a huge leap off a cliff

two skiiers jump out of a helicopter onto a snowy mountain

a skiier skis down a very steep slope 
Ski School: Primarily filmed against the majestic backdrop of Whistler Mountain in B.C., this film was directed by Damian Lee, a former member of the Canadian Olympic Ski Team!  And he's got the stunts to prove it.  In our humble opinion, Ski School could out-ski Ski Patrol any day of the week.  

Overall Scores:
Ski Patrol: 6/10
Ski School: 10/10


a businessman stand in front of a model of a ski resort
Ski Patrol: As everyone knows, businessmen are very evil.  This businessman, Sam Maris (played by Martin Mull) is also a real estate developer, making him the most evil type of evil businessman that exists. 

three white men wear patterned sweaters and have feathered hairstyles, and stand outside in the snow
Ski Patrol: If we've learned anything, never trust a guy who looks like this!  Leader of the evil sweater brigade, Lance (played by Corby Timbrook), aids and abets Maris to thwart the patrollers and take over the mountain. 

a white man wears a turtleneck and sweater
Ski School: Hmm... looks familiar!  Again, we'd like to reinforce: never, ever trust a guy who looks like this!  Reid Janssens (played by Mark Thomas Miller), is the leader of the preppy part of the school, and challenges the party dudes to a race to rule the school.  And you know they've got to fight for their right to party! 

Overall Scores:
Ski Patrol: 6/10
Ski School: 4/10

Best Party

three men sing songs on a snowy mountain 

a group of people inner tube down a snowy hill
Ski Patrol: Ever seen a karaoke inner tube party set on a mountainside?  This actually looks very fun-slash-wholesome.

a house party where one person is singing
Ski Patrol:  If you'd like to attend another karaoke party where only one person gets to sing, and also does impressions, well, here you go.  

a man opening a beer can and spraying foam

a big party at a bar with people running onto the dance floor
Ski School:  Sleep in, Ski, Party all Night, and Repeat. This is pretty much the entire plot of this film.  In the immortal words of Fitz Fitzgerald (played by Stuart Fratkin), "Skiing is partying, partying is skiing."  In a possible product placement deal, we see gallons of Labatt consumed, as well an endless supply of hot tubs.  

Overall Scores:
Ski Patrol: 5/10
Ski School: 10/10 (for sheer persistence)

The Results

We've carefully analyzed all the data points, crunched the numbers, tabulated the research, cooked the books, and the results are in!  The winner, and official king of the slopes is Ski School, with 34 out of 50 points.  Congrats to Dave and the gang on making this unforgettable masterpiece!!!

Overall Scores:
Ski Patrol: 28/50
Ski School: 34/50

Can't get enough?  Well here are a few hot tips on some more frosty flicks:

man does ski flip

man screams happily
Ski School 2: That's right friends, Ski School was such a hit, they made another one!  Dean Cameron as Dave Marshak is back and badder than ever in this 1994 sequel, which features snowboarding (gasp), more partying, and even more hijinks!

 still from television show It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, with Dean Cameron

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia did a tribute episode to Ski School (Season 11, Episode 3), including a cameo by none other than Dean Cameron himself!

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