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Palace - Feb 10, 2021

The History of the Shot Ski

Shot glass being placed on Palace Shot Ski

A Shot Ski is a ski with four shot glasses spread apart and attached to it, designed to enable friends to take shots in unison. When the Ski is tipped back, all of the glasses relinquish their contents, forcing friends to take their shots at the same time...or risk getting bathed in liquor. 

The origins of the Shot Ski are murky. Some say it originated in Norway, where skiing was invented. Austrians claim it evolved from a 'schnapps' ski. The Canadians insist it came from the University of British Columbia's ski team.  You be the judge. 

The first time you used a shot ski, did you ask yourself, “Who invented this thing?”

No. You didn’t. You were probably thinking, “Am I about to get Fireball all over my ski favorite sweater?”

Luckily, by following a few simple guidelines, you can pull off the perfect shot. Once you’ve managed that, it’s time to learn a little more about the shot ski itself—where it comes from, who does it best, and how many people (and shots) you’ll need if you want to set a world record.

With this knowledge in mind, you’ll be ready to regale everyone at your next apres-ski. After a couple of rounds with the shot ski, of course.

What is a shot ski? 

Okay, this is an easy one. A shot ski is a ski with shot glasses attached to it. The minimum number of glasses is three; any more than four, and you’re getting ambitious.

You can use just about any type of ski—downhill, cross, even a water ski. If you’re building a shot ski by hand, the old fashioned ski bum way, you’ll use whatever old ski you have laying around.

You may even want to experiment with a snowboard, but be warned: While the narrowness of a typical ski naturally accommodates itself to shot-taking, a snowboard may be too clumsy.

Regardless of what you use, the classic shot ski has its shot glasses attached with Gorilla Glue, duct tape, or some combination of the two. There are tutorials online for making a ski that attaches to shot glasses using magnets, but it may require some intermediate to advanced woodworking skills.

Aside from hostel style shot skis assembled from old junk, there are a variety of purpose-build shot skis on the market. Quality varies, from absolutely kitschy models to those designed to last. We sell the most beautiful one in the world.

The right way to shot ski 

Using a shot ski may seem intuitive. Just stand in a line, fill the glasses, and go for it—right?

But there’s one factor you don’t want to neglect: Height. Unless the people doing shots are identical triplets, you can expect that some will be more vertically challenged than others. That can result in major spillage.

Here are the steps you need to follow to pull off the perfect shot, regardless of height differences:

  • Select your team.  
  • Line up in descending order of height. This is important. You want a nice, smooth slope. Any moguls—ie. shorty taking the middle position—result in a rough ride (spillage.)  
  • Check to make sure your glasses are secured. With the Palace Shot Ski, this isn’t an issue—you’ve got neodymium magnets keeping everything in place. But if your shotski is held together with less reliable adhesives, make sure nothing is going to come loose. Nothing ruins a shot like chipping a tooth.  
  • Fill your glasses with your drink of choice. Make sure you’re only filing part of the glass, and leaving room at the top. Your hands won’t be perfectly steady when it’s time to drink—especially if you’ve warmed up with a few practice shots.
  • All hands on deck. Firmly grasp the ski.  
  • Carefully raise the shot ski.  
  • Send it.

Who made the first shot ski?

It’s no easy task to delve back in time and learn who created the first shot ski.

Who first discovered the use of fire? Where and when did human consciousness emerge? When aliens genetically engineered us, why did they give men nipples?

All of these questions are easier to answer—and less controversial—than the origin of the first shot ski. But we can give it a shot. (See what we did there?)

Countless hours of debate among scholars and reams of research have led us to consider five possibilities.

The shot ski came from Norway 

This one makes intuitive sense, since skiing was invented in Norway.

The earliest evidence goes back 3000 or 4000 years, as depicted in the rock carvings of Alta. At least one figure depicts a person on skis. 

Just look at this guy shred. (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons) 

But these neolithic hunters were still figuring out the rudiments of agriculture, so it’s uncertain whether they had perfected the shot glass.

The shot ski came from the University of British Columbia 

This one is more of a rumor than anything else. Of the scant writings available about the history of the shot ski, many note that, according to word-of-mouth, UBC may be the point of origin.

Universities have a reputation for rowdy innovations—that’s where the keg stand originated, after all. And UBC’s student body has a history of snowy activities. The Varsity Outdoor Club traces its history of skiing and mountaineering back to 1917, and a dedicated ski club emerged as early as 1974.

UBC’s first Varsity Outdoors Club on Grouse Mountain. You can tell they like to party. (Photo Credit: UBC Archives)

But, again—there’s no hard evidence. And until someone discovers a turn of the century shot ski petrified somewhere in a student backcountry hut, this rumor will remain a rumor.

The shot ski came from Austria 

Some of the hardest evidence of the shot ski’s early development comes from Austria. That’s because Austrians have their own, particular shot ski tradition. The kind of tradition that could easily have been picked up by travelling ski bums and watered down to become the widely appreciated international shot ski of today.

First of all, in Austria, they call it the schnappski. Meaning, they only drink schnapps. That’s right—the sugary sweet liquor that puts grandma in a fighting mood every Christmas.

Second, in Austria, they do it raw. Meaning, their shot glasses aren’t attached to the ski. Participants have to rely on their collective dexterity to pull the whole thing off. Leave it to Austrians to make the act of getting loaded an exercise in rigorous discipline. 

“I would like a schanppski this long, please.” (Photo Credit: The Hammer Museum.)

The world’s biggest shot ski 

No matter where in the mists of prehistory the shot ski may have originated, only one place can lay claim to the world’s longest shot ski.

Participants in Park City, Utah set the record in 2019. A total of 1,310 people drank 1,310 shots off one long chain of connected skis, all at once. And, sponsored by High West distillery, they managed to raise almost $30,000 for charity while they were at it.

The previous record was held by their rivals in the town of Breckenridge, Colorado, who earlier in the year rallied a measly 1,299 participants. Pathetic!

At an event like this, you don’t want to be the guy who spills. (Photo Credit: Park City Chamber of Commerce.)

The shot ski in popular culture 

While the shot ski may have first spread in mountain bars and ski hostels, it has since spilled out into popular culture. There are people who have never even seen a chairlift, but still know how to pull off a perfect shot ski.

Andy Cohen’s Shot Ski 

We have to credit Jimmy Fallon with first bringing the shot ski to mainstream attention. Fallon, an avid skier, presented a custom shot ski to Andy Cohen on Cohen’s show Watch What Happens Live. “Andy’s Clubhouse Shotski” has since become a fixture on the show. Everyone from Charlie Sheen to Hillary Clinton has gotten in on the fun.

Hillary Clinton taking a shot from a shot ski on Andy Cohen Live

Look at that form. There’s no way this is her first time. (Photo Credit: YouTube.)

The Schatzki Ring 

Trust us: Don’t google this one.

A Schatzki ring is an issue with the esophagus that makes it difficult to get food into your stomach. Symptoms include difficulty and, sometimes, total blockage. (We warned you about googling this one.)

For some reason, people who wish to learn more about the shot ski’s rich history end up learning, quite graphically, about the schatzki ring. At Palace, this is the sort of trial we endure to bring you quality content.

Oh, and if you googled “schatzki” and ended up here, you’re in the wrong place. Probably the last thing you should be doing right now is shots. Please contact your doctor.

The PALACE Shot Ski

What, you thought you’d make it through this whole article without learning about our product?

The PALACE Shot Ski stands out. It’s a functional shot ski—a guaranteed party starter—as well as a beautiful piece of art.

Unlike a DIY shot ski held together with Gorilla Glue, ours actually stays together in one piece. And unlike the cheap best sellers out there—novelty toys with acrylic shot glasses—out shot ski is designed for grownups. Meaning you can leave it out when the inlaws come to visit, and you won’t be embarrassed.

Heavy-duty and handcrafted, it makes for a great gift idea, too. The Shot Ski is heirloom quality—no plastic shot glasses here. And, unlike the shotski kits you may find for sale online, there is no assembly required. You can start using your Shot Ski right out of the box.

We like to say our shot ski is the fastest way to bring your party from the bunny hills to a black diamond run. Not convinced? Check out the Palace Shot Ski.