Skiing past ‘Nipplegate’ |

Skiing past ‘Nipplegate’

As the editor who OK’d the infamous Sarah Schleper topless-skiing cover photo in the now-defunct Daily Trail, I probably don’t have much cred on this topic, but I have a hard time seeing “Nipplegate” as the end of Western civilization.I’m referring, of course, to Janet Jackson’s way overblown “wardrobe malfunction” during the halftime show of Sunday’s Super Bowl. To hear the FCC commissioner tell it, he was expecting Lawrence Welk and got Linda Lovelace.You’ve got to be kidding. From the Britney Spears Grammy promos showing her grinding on all fours in a see-through, sparkly body stocking to Nelly asking “Is it getting hot in here?” and his cheerleader dancers stripping down to the bare essentials to Kid Rock prancing around in a poncho made of an American flag, there’s was way more to get excited about than just Janet and Justin.My 3-year-old son didn’t see the defining moment of XXXVIII (he was taking a nap), and I missed it too (working on my computer), but if we had seen it together, I hardly think he would have been traumatized.Now, roll back the clock a decade, when Janet’s brother performed at a halftime show, setting an untouchable Super Bowl crotch-grabbing record. If Nick had seen that I would have whisked him from the room and enrolled him in a hard-core deprogramming camp. That was offensive.I think a little upper-body nudity completes us as a society. And when it comes to sports and nudity, there’s a long tradition of busting a move in the buff.From the first Olympic marathoners running around Greece stark naked to Brandi Chastain stripping down to her sports bra to celebrate the U.S. women’s World Cup win, nudity and partial nudity are a big part of sports.In fact, skiing, despite being one of the chilliest athletic endeavors, has a long history of goose-bump-inducing nakedness. From Suzy “Chapstick” Chaffee to Shane McConkey, skiing is sometimes best au natural.Is there anything more extreme than exposing one’s pasty white winter flesh to the elements at 30 mph? That’s what a competitor did at the U.S. Freeskiing Open in Vail recently although he was bundled up in ski boots and a pink thong.Sarah Schleper wasn’t breaking new ground. She was just upholding a long and proud tradition of partial nudity on the slopes.Even the newspaper wasn’t breaking too much ground: the British tabloids went that route years ago, and The Vail Trail can point to its Packy Walker fig-leaf cover for historical precedent.It’s a tradition The Vail Trail hopes to uphold this season when assistant editor Tom Boyd skis Highline in a loin cloth to pay off a bet he lost to me in the weekly football picks. I outstripped, if you will, our so-called expert by some 30 or 40 games. So next time you see him, ask him when the big day is.Which neatly brings this column full circle, back to the sport of football, where the beer commercials are far more shocking than the halftime shows.What I was most dismayed by was the Patriots, a team the Denver Broncos have owned for decades, now have as many Super Bowl wins as the Donkeys. If the Colts hadn’t slipped past Denver in the wildcard round, our Broncs would have taken care of business in Boston.You read it here first: if the Pats repeat next season, eclipsing Denver as the most recent back-to-back Super Bowl winner, and if Boyd can bounce back and beat me in pigskin prognosticating, I’ll ski down Gitalong Road in nothing but chaps and a straw cowboy hat.Put that on the cover of The Trail.David O. Williams, managing editor of The Vail Trail, has been reporting the naked truth in the Vail Valley for more than 10 years. E-mail him at

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