Jackson Hole breaks world record for most people skiing in jeans

Over 3,000 people took to the slopes over the weekend to claim the title, decked out in Canadian tuxedos, denim shorts and the occasional jean Speedo.
Skiers show off their denim outfits in front of Cody Peak at the top of Sublette Quad Chair on the bluebird day. (Connor Burkesmith)

by | Dec 11, 2023 | Recreation

It was about 20 degrees and sunny at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s two gondolas Saturday, and it was a sea of denim.

Ski instructor Reyn Hoffman practiced her disco moves near a live band.

“So, we have a full Canadian tux with a disco helmet and a lot of glitter on,” Hoffman said.

Some were wearing denim shorts, or even the occasional jean Speedo. Others tucked in snow pants under their denim.

From left to right: Mike Anderson, Nancy Simonds, Chelsea Robin, Forrest Lewis, Drew Higgins and Johnson Whippie. (Hannah Habermann/Wyoming Public Media)

Dylan Reuter donned a brown cowboy hat, thrift store jeans and rainbow Pit Viper glasses. 

“I’m a coastal cowboy just looking to shred some pow,” Reuter said.

He and some friends from Newport Beach, California saw the resort advertising on social media that it was attempting to break the world skiing in jeans record.

“We all immediately bought tickets and booked a little lodging and came out,” Reuter said.

The resort said skiing in jeans is a way to kick off the winter season and that a record is something people can latch onto. Colorado’s Arapahoe Basin claimed the title in 2020 when 80 people wore denim on the slopes. This year, a New Zealand resort topped that with just over a hundred.

Standing under an inflatable black archway, snow groomer Blane Gilliland manually counted each person wearing jeans.

I’m not counting you till you come back in jeans,” he said to someone wanting a free jeans day sticker.

By 10 a.m., Gilliland had already counted 1,300 denim-clad skiers and riders.

“We broke the record, like, three minutes in — by 8:30 before we even opened,” Gilliland said.

Scenes from Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s Skiing in Jeans Day on Dec. 9. (Hannah Habermann/Wyoming Public Media)

The resort was offering lift tickets for $25 dollars, and sold out online ahead of the event.

Day tickets typically go for about 200 bucks at the resort. Kellie Wirth, who’s from Jackson, said that can make skiing unattainable.

“It’s kind of becoming an elitist sport, which is sad, so it’s fun to get back to the jeans and remember the good old days,” said Wirth, standing with a group wearing bright pink boas — part of an organized all-ladies ski run with local group Women in the Tetons.

Wirth said people wear jeans when they can’t afford snow pants. The latest high tech brands can go for hundreds of dollars.

“I think of the 1980s and neon jackets, jeans, handkerchiefs, just the good old long 210 (centimeter) skis and a lot of hips in the turn,” Wirth said.

Nowadays, many see skiing in jeans as a joke — something you do on April Fool’s or closing day. 

But according to Reuter, the coastal cowboy, skiing in jeans means “freedom.”

“That’s what it is,” Reuter said. “Skiing in jeans is freedom.”

The final tally of skiers in jeans? 3,114.

Resort-goers ski down a cat track in denim and cowboy hats. (Hannah Habermann/Wyoming Public Media)

 

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About Hanna Merzbach

Hanna is KHOL's senior reporter and managing editor. A lot of her work focuses on housing and local politics, but also women's health — and whatever else she finds interesting. You can hear her reporting around the country and region on NPR, Wyoming Public Radio and community radio stations around the west. She hails from Bend, Oregon, where she reported for outlets such as the Atlantic, High Country News and Oregon Public Broadcasting. In her free time, you can find Hanna scaling rock walls or adventuring in the mountains.

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