We’re not here to split hairs about chair placements and tap choices. The selection of a mascot is the single most important choice a ski area can make. Some say a good pick can make or break a resort. To that end, we’ve created a list of the very best ski area mascots and ranked them. If you didn’t make the cut, sorry—this list is extremely selective. Ivy League who?
Enough chit-chat. Let’s talk criteria. An ideal mascot should have the following characteristics:
1. A mascot must bear SOME passing relation to a uniqueness about your mountain. This should be obvious but is not always the case.
Good examples of this are the Boston Red Sox’s Wally the Green Monster, aptly named for the feature of Fenway Park that swats away would-be homers. Another is Gritty, the Philadelphia Flyers mascot who so deeply embodies the insanity of Philly sports fans that he created a cult internet following that exists far outside the world of hockey.
Bad examples of this: Gidget, The Taco Bell chihuahua whose relation to the brand is that it’s… Mexican? The Rhode Island School of Design’s mascot. Just… Google it.
2. The mascot for a ski area—unlike many other sports mascots—is for children. Without competition involved, this character serves to delight. This means they need to be cuddly and friendly, quirky and fun. If Woolly the Mammoth makes fun of the Vail’s Riperoo, some kids are going to walk away sad. Leave berating other ski areas to the comment section, where no one will read it.
3. Your ski mascot must be able to shred in costume. Hire a skier that is so confident sliding rails that she can K-Fed inside a dark sweaty mass of felt without ending up on her ass. Ideal candidates are anyone who placed fourth in the local freeride competition. They’re not making it to the X Games and no one wants to see their edit—but they’ll still get a season pass out of it.
Without further ado, here are the best ski area mascots, ranked.
10. Loveland Guy
Loveland Guy is… just that. He is a human male sporting a pink shell polka-dotted with yellow spots, and he’s a skier, we guess. Why is he on our list? Because his companion was the indefatigable Toby, the Bernese Mountain dog (AKA one of the most kid-friendly breeds OAT) who was the unofficial mascot of Loveland. RIP Toby, we miss you.
9. Sport Goofy—Vail Resorts circa 1989
We’re not quite sure if this loses points for being absurdly commercial or gains points for being so on-brand, but in the 1980s Vail briefly teamed up with Disney to bring Sport Goofy—the original Goofy, but sporty?—to the slopes of Vail. The romance between monopolists was short-lived, but the sheer audacity of the choice to try to turn Vail into literal Disneyland combined with the fact that kids probably loved it earns Sport Goofy a spot on this list.
8. Woolly—Mammoth Mountain
One of the O.G. mascots, no list is complete without Woolly. His roots are deep in the community’s mining history, and he is so beloved that the resort built a massive bronze statue to him. Well, we may have made that up. The only reason we placed him so low on the list is that he is often seen riding a snowboard. This is The Skier’s Magazine, after all.
7. Griff, Banff Sunshine’s Grizzly
Friendly and fierce, Griff embodies his native Canadian Rockies. You can see him shredding powder and corn late into the spring when he pairs up with the Easter Bunny. On the note of fantasy animals—if Mammoth wanted another extinct animal to pair with Woolly, they could always use the California Grizzly. We’ll take our royalties by check.
6. FUNty the Elephant of the Zillertal
OK, so maybe this doesn’t fit criteria one. Sue us. But this elephant makes kids happy, and it has fun in its name! This strange artifact of Austrian culture can be found roaming zee piste in Zillertal Arena, but not at its local watering hole.
Using its trunk for superior balance and top hat for steeze, FUNty can shred with the best of them. And when Hannibal’s heir crosses the Alps, the Zillertallers will be ready.
5. Sunday River’s Eddy the Yeti
Reinhold Messner, arguably the greatest alpinist of all time, swears to this day he saw and killed a Yeti in the Himalayan tundra. No one tell the children of Maine.
Eddy is special because of the dedication Sunday River put into his legend. The resort boasts Eddy’s Cabin, a real wooden hut that the lovable beast calls home. They even wrote a children’s book about him!
4. The Griz, Fernie’s Local Legend
The Griz, born in a bear’s den, this local hero is said to be the source of Fernie’s considerable snowfall. Back in the days before abundant powder The Griz aimed his 300-pound musket into the sky and tore it asunder, causing the snow to fall. And fall it has, ever since. Show me a sports team with a better mascot backstory, I dare you.
3. Schuss, Mascot of the 1968 Winter Olympics
Schuss has the enviable distinction of being the inaugural mascot of the Winter Olympics. While the Olympics have a long and storied history of bizarre mascots, Schuss is the E.B. White to their Faulkners—charming and plain. Plus he was there to cheer on French hero Jean-Claude Killy to a gold in the downhill.
2. Hunter Mountain Shiobara’s Hantama-kun
The Japanese offshoot of New York’s Hunter Mountain has by far the most charming mascot of any on this list—he’s an anthropomorphic soft-boiled egg. Known affectionately by American tourists as “Sunny Side,” Hantama-kun is one of the nation’s greatest ramen condiments. His signature move is to salt himself and he shreds Japow.
He is also often found wearing an Uncle Sam-style top hat in a strange homage to the mountain’s American forefathers. Here he is on their tubing coarse, gleefully out of control.
1. Taos Ski Valley’s Slim Slidell
Taos Ski Valley’s director of ski patrol called Slim Slidell the resort’s “best patroller at educating the public.” But Slidell also deserves to be canonized here as the single greatest ski area mascot. He is a paragon to skier safety; his placement—prone, face down, hanging on for dear life—is both hilarious and thought-provoking. In other words, he’s an analog for this magazine. Slim is a reminder of how rad the terrain at Taos is. If you fall on Chair 2, you better stop yourself.
For all who aspire to reach this pantheon of ski area mascots, try again next year.
Editor’s Note: Once upon a time, the author had an interview to play Woolly for a season, but he can ski the park about as well as Tom Brady.
This article originally appeared on Powder.com and was republished with permission.