They were heady, chauvinistic times. The year was 1971, and the K2 Performers, a group of upstart young skiers who were some of the first freestyle skiers in a sport until then dominated by racing, were in Sun Valley to promote the small ski brand, K2. Maybe you've heard of them? Anyway, thousands of flight attendants were in town as well for Airlines Week, and Sun Valley's marketing director cajoled the Performer's henchman, filmmaker Dick Barrymore, into running a K2-branded t-shirt contest at the Boiler Room in town. The pair went back and forth until they decided that the t-shirts should be wet, and the more scantily clad the contestant, the more points they'd win. The wet t-shirt contest was born.
The Performers hosted similar events throughout the duration of their national tour, garnering them threats of arrest at the Rusty Nail in Stowe, Vermont, and the tour culminated in the National K2 T-Shirt Finals, held on March 10th, 1971 at the Red Onion in Aspen. Barrymore was the emcee, and Olympic gold medalist and pioneer of American skiing, Stein Eriksen, was even one of the judges. A editor from Playboy, who was friend of ski legend and K2 Performer Bobbie Burns, came up for the finals and ended up writing a feature story about the event. The article would introduce the wet t-shirt contest to the world, and the same time as it infuriated K2's devoutly religious owners at the Cummins Diesel Company. From that point forward, spring break would never be the same again.
· 50 Years of Fun [K2 Skis]