Ski Patrol

TV review by
Anne Louise Bannon, Common Sense Media
Ski Patrol TV Poster Image
High-intensity rescues in the high country.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Patrol members put their necks on the line to help the injured and keep others safe. Some bad attitudes/rule breaking on the slopes. One patroller admits he's ruining some kids' day when he insists they break down an illegal jump, but he notes that it's for the public safety; he's cool but firm, even when the kids are cursing him to his face.

Violence

Skiing and snowboarding accidents and avalanches can be scary and brutal, but there's no human-on-human violence. But people do get injured, resulting in some blood shown and other very painful-looking effects.

Sex

Mild, occasional flirting, one rescued young woman falls for the guy who rescued her.

Language

Audible language includes "damn," and there are lots of bleeps (generally in stressful situations like being in extreme pain or watching someone get caught in an avalanche) -- in at least a couple of cases, you can easily figure out the word that was censored.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some celebratory social drinking at the end of the day, including a drinking game in which a patroller who falls has to buy beer for his companions. A tray of shots -- one flaming -- is served to the crew.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this reality show isn't for the squeamish. People get seriously injured, and while the images aren't overly bloody, viewers do see things like blood traced in the snow and misshapen ankles and wrists. In other segments, people describe very intense experiences like being caught in an avalanche. Attitudes on the slopes aren't always the best: Boyfriends ditch injured girlfriends, kids challenge the authority of a ski patroller (in one case, when the patroller points out that what they're doing could hurt others, the kid replies, "That's their problem"), and so on. But the show also makes the patrollers' good intentions and duty to others very clear.

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What's the story?

For anyone who thinks of skiing as an expensive way to hurt yourself, SKI PATROL won't provide much in the way of reassurance. Shot at two different resorts (Pennsylvania's Blue Mountain and Washington's Crystal Mountain) the series follows the rescues and jobs of modern ski patrollers -- the folks who take care of getting injured folks off the runs, do what they can to prevent avalanches, and make sure that the skiers and snowboarders behave.

Is it any good?

Even when you're hiding your eyes to avoid seeing the latest broken limb, the show is riveting. Your head will tell you that the action is ramped up for TV, but it's still breathtaking and beautifully shot. And it's ultimately good human drama, even if it's not for the squeamish.

At best, Ski Patrol could inspire some young skiers to become patrollers ... or maybe just dissuade them from trying some of the stupider things that kids do (one of the worst injuries included in the show happened because the young victim had built an illegal jump). The rest of us can stick to the bunny slopes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how producers edit shows like this to make them seem more dramatic. Can you tell whether two adjoining sequences really occurred right in a row? How is it that camera crews were able to catch a single avalanche from three different angles? What else might be exaggerated for effect? Do you think there are really that many life-threatening injuries on the ski slopes in one day?

TV details

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