Ski Sunday

While the BBC spends most of its TV licence revenue on overpaying chatshow hosts and making fine nature documentaries, ORF, its Austrian equivalent, prefers to splash its cash on overpaying chatshow hosts and making fine free winter sports games. For years ORF have been dishing out top-notch ski simulators. The latest – Ski Challenge 2009 – lets you slide down six famous European peaks at breakneck speeds. Don’t be put-off by the Deutsch web page. The installer and game menus are all in English.

As lovely as SC-09 is, it lacks – like all skiing sims I’ve tried – a certain physicality. The challenge of adjusting speed and line are there, but there’s no sense that you’re actually hurtling down the mountain on two planks of carbon-fibre rather than one. You might as well be on a sledge or a cello case. I’m still waiting for a ski sim in which each ski is controlled by a separate key set, or thumbstick.



If SC-09 puts you in a snowy mood then the demo of Biathlon 2009  is another interesting place to spend time. Skiing plus shooting should be an irresistible mix. The fact that it isn’t, probably owes something to that lack of physicality again. Until some clever dev does something fresh with this subzero sub-genre, all skiing games will remain slightly prettier versions of William Tang’s 1982 opus.


  1. derFeef says:

    I am proud to be an Austrian now, lol.

  2. Smurfy says:

    dat is so wicked d00dz

  3. Dead Fish says:

    Awesome! I’m from Austria and it’s really funny to see you post about this.

    I have to confess, I never bothered with Ski Challenge, because I’m not a fan of Ski broadcasts (of which ORF shows plenty, this time of the year) or sport simulations, but I have some friends who have been downloading these games for a few years now.

  4. wahwah says:

    <- another Austrian ;)

    never bothered with the games either, not really a fan of any sports game in fact
    and I don’t have a TV anymore, but Dead Fish reminded me that during the winter season ORF felt pretty much like “Ski-TV” … I hated that

  5. Al3xand3r says:

    Skiing in Wii Fit is fun, as arcady as it is. There, I said it.

    But, it’s true, ever since dual analog sticks were introduced I’ve been waiting for a skiing game that has that kind of dual leg control. I almost patented the concept (lol, come on, I was rather young) but then I figured it’s best out in the open and up for grabs by any developers. A decade later, nobody has done it. What the hell?!

  6. Pags says:

    You might as well be on a sledge or a cello case.

    That actually sounds awesome. The cello case sim that is.

  7. Dinger says:

    French and Swiss television also sponsor this (and probably some others). It’s actually a bigger deal than you’d think. You can register online, and compete online, and get ranked on a leaderboard. The courses are unlocked across the ski season (so, a week before the pros race at Bormio, they unlock the course), and there are TV-publicized competitions, and prize winners.

    When I moved into this office a few years ago, not only did it have the spectacular view of the Alps out the window, but it also had a rather intense office Ski Challenge rivalry.

    So no, it ain’t a hardcore sim, but it has a huge and hardcore following. Don’t be like Mr. Rossignol and underestimate the social power of video games!

  8. Player1 says:

    Writing from Zurich in Switzerland. Swiss TV now got trouble because of the IGA in the game and because they are advertising it on their page, which is payed by the taxpayer (e.g. me…). The game is good though, even if the 2007 edition was alot better. And yes, it’s about a load of cash…

  9. Gotem says:

    have some friends who have been downloading these games for a few years now.

    They should really get a faster internet connection.

  10. Arienette says:

    The thing with a dual-leg-control thing is that when skiing, unless you’re doing a cross country/walking thing, your legs do typically act as a single unit. So there isn’t much wrong with depicting it like that.

  11. Mickiscoole says:

    I thought this article would be about “Ski Free”, as it is the only decent skiing game that has ever been or will ever be made.

  12. Tim Stone says:

    Arienette, Yes, the challenge would be coordinating each set of controls, and fighting against the physics and the bumps to keep everything tight. Obviously there’d need to be some sort of ski position graphic to work off.

  13. caesarbear says:

    You guys are late to the party. You can also get Ski Challenge from the principle website: link to

    Tim left out the most notable part of this game; You can compete on-line in time trials, and there are “official” race days you can participate in. It has a nice race sim ghost feature where you can select any of the recorded times and watch how they did it in a replay.

  14. monchberter says:

    “Cello case”. Hmm, someone’s been watching ‘The Living Daylights’.

  15. Dave says:

    Knowing nothing about skiing — I was born in Florida, and now live in St. Louis — I thought this was pretty nifty. But I want to somehow mash up downhill skiing with Mount & Blade.

  16. Saul says:

    The last skiing game I remember playing was “Ski or Die!”. Anyone remember that gem?

  17. MacBeth says:

    With the Rossignol name, Jim should be all over this…

    Or is he the black sheep of the family, refusing to take the reins of the family ski-equipment business and running away to be a games journalist?