As a young man, Paddy O fell so deeply under the spell of one very special film that, despite never having skied before, he abandoned his life in the Midwest and ran away to the Rockies forever.
As a young man, Paddy O fell so deeply under the spell of one very special film that, despite never having skied before, he abandoned his life in the Midwest and ran away to the Rockies forever. (Courtesy Paddy O’Connell)
Adventures in Audio

How the Ski Bum Was Made

As a young man, Paddy O fell so deeply under the spell of one very special film that, despite never having skied before, he abandoned his life in the Midwest and ran away to the Rockies forever.

It’s the ultimate mountain-town caricature: the shaggy semi-athlete who lives in a van (or truck or crowded apartment), works a number of crappy jobs (pizza delivery, barback, liftie), and skis 100 days every winter. This is the ski bum: a hero to some, a loser to others, and an enigma to everyone—until now. In this episode, bona fide ski bum Paddy “Paddy O” O’Connell presents irrefutable evidence that the campy ski flicks of the eighties and nineties—cult classics like Hot Dog, Ski Patrol, and Aspen Extreme—are what inspired so many vulnerable youth to drop everything and head for the hills. He should know. As a young man, Paddy O fell so deeply under the spell of one very special film that, despite never having skied before, he abandoned his life in the Midwest and ran away to the Rockies forever.   


This episode of the Outside Podcast is brought to you by the all-new Ford Bronco Sport, an adventure-ready 4×4 SUV with seven available G.O.A.T. modes that enable it to go over any type of terrain. Learn how you can outfit it to match your lifestyle at Ford.com.

Follow the Outside Podcast

Outside’s longstanding literary storytelling tradition comes to life in audio with features that will both entertain and inform listeners. We launched in March 2016 with our first series, Science of Survival, which was developed in partnership with PRX, distributors of the idolized This American Life and The Moth Radio Hour, among others. We have since expanded our show and now offer a range of story formats, including interviews with the biggest figures in sports, adventure, and politics, as well as reports from our correspondents in the field.