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Family ski vacation guide with the best ski resorts for family skiing

Category: Ski Goals (page 1 of 2)

First Ski Resorts to Open

Don’t you love fall skiing in ski country? Nothing prettier than autumn leaves and the first dusting of snow to make those brilliant autumn colors really pop. There’s also the excitement of watching  ski resorts drop ropes and open lifts first. It’s a race to be first to ski – out West and in the North East.

When it’s not even Halloween yet and  dozens of ski resorts are chomping at the bit to open… this is no trick, just a treat,  for skiers…

This year’s first place winner is Wolf Creek – this south western Colorado ski resort opened a full week ahead of everyone else, Oct 12 2018. That’s early.

The following weekend, perennial Eastern eager beavers Sunday River and Killington duked it out for first rights, as they always do. Sunday River opened to the public Friday October 19, Killington opened same day but exclusively for pass holders – a nice privilege, which also included the awesome IKON pass this season. In addition to a private pass holder first ski day, the Big K provides lunch to their first day skiers and riders. Killington also stayed open midweek, while Sunday River closed Monday- Friday to re-open for the weekend.

As for the usual first-to-open Rocky Mountain resorts, Loveland and Arapahoe Basin both opened October 20th weekend.

Pre-Halloween weekend,  more ski resorts joined the early season roster: Wildcat in New Hampshire and Mount Snow in Vermont open Saturday October 27, earliest openings ever for both resorts. A Nor’Easter snow storm dropped snow pre-Halloween weekend just to cap off snowmaking efforts.

Before Thanksgiving, so many ski resorts East & West enjoyed early openings: Vail, Aspen, Grand Targhee, Breck & Keystone, Mammoth and Squaw, plus New England’s Sugarloaf, Stowe, Loon and Sugarbush.

What I love about these early ski openings is not just the advanced opportunity to ski, but the enthusiasm and commitment these resorts make to stretch the ski season, to give long-term value to mostly pass holders –the majority of zealots that show up for early October/November and late May skiing.  Fall skiing can range from fast frozen grass with a thin layer of early season natural snow, to  snowmaking surfaces that range from groomed to rimy to erratic to pow. Still it’s a chance to get your ski legs, thread some first tracks on a ribbon of snow on a trail or two, upload and download, and see your ski buddies that have been hibernating all summer like you. lol…

So the race of the ski resorts to get those first to open “bragging rights” benefits the skiers, and snowboarders. The sooner ski areas open, the more snow they make, the better and longer your ski season is apt to be. Similarly, the season pass competitions of late are great. Conglomerate passes like the Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass and the IKON Pass are offering amazing alpine options, 30-44 ski resorts all on one convenient lift pass, at the price of what we used to pay for one single resort season pass. Seriously!

Examples: You can now ski Stowe, unlimited on the $949 Epic Pass, when previously a Stowe Season pass was upwards of $1,800, plus now you get the #EPIC opportunity to fly to Colorado for a week or two with free (ok, included) skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breck, and now even Telluride and Crested Butte all part of your pass, plus Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly, Kirkwood, and Northstar, and east coast sister resorts Okemo and Mount Sunapee! I’ve got my EPIC pass, do you?

While I’m not making first tracks skiing Halloween weekend, that’s a bit pre-mature for me – I’ve got costumes parties and leaves to rake still, I’m stoked to ski a bunch this winter, and I love watching ski resorts stock pile a bunch of snow for when I’m ready to go. This time of year I like to see my ski peeps at the Boston Ski Show Nov 8-11, to  shop this year’s best gear, and check out the best ski and stay deals for the year. This year, I also receive an “Excellence in Snowsports Coverage” award in Boston. See you soon on snow!

See our Top Early Ski Season Resorts Favorites:
Top Early Season Ski Resorts – East 
Top Early Season Ski Resorts – West

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Ski Writer Award – Heather Burke

Heather Burke of Kennebunkport Maine received a 2018 national award for her travel journalism. NASJA, North American Snowsports Journalist Association, awarded Heather the NASJA Mitch Kaplan Award, honoring persons who have contributed to the advancement of skiing and snowboarding, demonstrating excellence in media relations, bringing commitment and dignity to journalism. The award was presented in Lake Tahoe, California, at NASJA’s annual meeting, coinciding with The U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame and a Legends of Skiing reunion, and at the Boston Ski Show.

Heather and her photographer husband Greg manage the websites theluxuryvacationguide.com and familyskitrips.com, and are major contributors to snowpak.com.  Their works have appeared in scores of outlets including Boston.com, Forbes Travel Guide,  Marina Life, Snow Country, Liftopia and newspapers like the Boston Globe, The Maine Sunday Telegram – where Heather wrote the ski column for 11 years, Montreal Gazette, Providence Journal, Burlington Free Press and more, with her husband Greg’s photography accompanying her articles.

Award presenter, NASJA past-president, Martin Griff said, “When I read Heather’s work, I’m awed by how good it is, how she captures the essence of the ski experience at each resort she writes about and how effortlessly her words flow together. Heather was and still is an inspiration to me and it is just so appropriate that she be honored by NASJA for work that reflects the spirit, enthusiasm and dedication that Mitch Kaplan had for snowsports writing.”

Heather, who learned to ski at the age of three at Gunstock in New Hampshire, worked at her parents’ Smugglers Notch Vermont ski lodge, and as a ski instructor before embarking on her writing career. She has been a ski journalist for over two decades, sampling over 170 ski areas and gathering many awards along the way including three NASJA Harold Hirsch Excellence in Journalism Awards, and Freeskier Magazine’s “Top 100 ski industry people to follow” honor.

Klaus Obermeyer of Aspen Colorado, Nordic Olympic Gold Medalist Jessie Diggins, and Jeff Wise of Stowe Mountain  also received awards  at the 2018 NASJA media event. Previous winners of this NASJA award include The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore and extreme skiing pioneer Dan Egan. NASJA, founded in 1963 as the United States Ski Writers Association, is North America’s largest association of professional snowsports writers, authors, photographers, videographers, broadcasters and industry professionals.

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Affordable Family Ski Trip Tips

Shred the Slopes And Not Your Wallet: Tips For A Budget-Friendly Ski Trip

In 2016, 13.91 million people traveled to a ski resort for a family ski vacation. This is because there’s absolutely nothing like feeling the wind against your face as you take on the toughest Black Diamond trail. However, ski trip costs add up. With the cost of lift tickets, ski gear, lodging, and transportation for everyone, skiing is not a cheap sport. But never fear because you can still participate in the sport you love while being kind to your wallet. Check out these budget-friendly tips to help you save a little on your next family ski trip.

Plan early and book off-peak
Ski season is typically from late November to early April. Therefore, you should start planning your trip  end of summer. This will allow you enough time to shop for bargains and get discounted rooms and airline tickets. You should also ski off-peak seasons, typicallythe beginning and end of the ski season. Early December, ski lift ticket prices are generally less expensive and so are lodging costs, same goes for early April at high-elevation ski resorts that stay open later, like Vail and Snowbird. You definitely want to avoid Christmas-New Years, Martin Luther King weekend in January and mid February – high-peak seasons that come with  higher costs and crowds. See our Tips on Planning the best ski vacation.

Travel with more families
One of the best ways to reduce your cost of travel is to vacation with more than one family. You can find neighbors, family friends, or extended family members to help split the expenses of lodging – renting a  big condo or ski house,  and you can share food expense. Not only will you save some money, but you will also have someone for the kids to play with, and après ski with your adult friends. It’s always more fun with more people to share your experiences with!

Be prepared to cook your own food
When shopping for lodging, try to find a resort ski home, cabin, or condo that comes equipped with a kitchen, and often washer dryer! So you don’t have to eat  out every meal – saving you money, and sparing you from dining with tired hungry kids after a big day of skiing. If you travel with another family or extra friends, you can all take turns cooking every night. This way you can split the cost of groceries as well as the cooking. See our Tips on Packing for a Ski Condo.

Start saving as soon as you book
As soon as you book your lodging and transportation, set up a “ski trip” savings account. Determine how much money you will need for the trip and set this as your goal. You can determine how much you should save each month and what you plan to put on your credit card. If you have a rewards card, place purchases on this card to get cash-back for the big ticket purchases. This will help you budget, with the bonus of rewards later.

Look at Pass Prices instead of Day Tickets
Check out he price for a season pass at the ski resort if you are going for more than 5 days. Today’s ski passes, like the Epic Pass, IKON pass and Mountain Collective are often better deals (valid at many ski resorts all winter) when bought in advance than the retail day tickets. Vail is over $179 a day but an Epic Pass starts at $599! You do the math!

Buy second-hand equipment
One of the most expensive costs of skiing is the equipment. If you already have your own equipment, that is great. But for everyone else, renting your skis every trip can become costly. You may want to look into second-hand shops, local ski swaps hosted by school and ski clubs, and ask about used gear at ski shops for deals on previously owned gear or demos. Also shopping in spring , online, you can find great deals on last year’s ski gear. See our Ski Gear Guide for the top skis to buy or rent.

Pack Well in Advance
Many families find packing for skiing to be stressful, see out Tips on What and How to Pack for a successful ski trip.

If you love skiing, you shouldn’t let cost keep you from hitting the slopes. Shred the snow without damaging your wallet with some preparation, organization, and research.

Skiing = expensive, memories skiing with your family = priceless!


Aspen’s Ikon Pass or Vail’s Epic Pass

The recent merger of mountain resorts under Aspen and Intrawest brings the newly emerged Alterra Mountain Company and an “IKON” pass. Alterra has launched its collective season pass for  2018-2019 ski season, its called the IKON Pass and it unites 36+ top ski destinations, versus Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass valid at 19 major ski resorts, and benefits at 65.

The IKON Pass will put 63,000 skiable acres across the continent, yes Canada too,  on one season pass, with varying access at each destination, with a price of $999, its a hybrid of the MAX Pass and Mountain Collective, and a strong competitor to Vail’s Epic Pass, all good news and great alternatives for skiers and riders.

The IKON Pass brings together Alterra Mountain Company, Aspen Skiing Company,  Intrawest and Boyne Resorts, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, POWDR, Alta/Snowbird and Canada’s Big 3. A spin off from The  Max Pass, this pass has some pretty epic ski resort from Aspen, Steamboat and Copper in Colorado, to Deer Valley, Solitude, Alta, and Snowbird in Utah, Squaw, Mammoth and Big Bear in California, Crystal Mountain in Washington, Big Sky in Montana, Jackson Hole Wyoming, plus Loon, Sunday River , Sugarloaf, Stratton, Sugarbush and Killington in The East, Tremblant in Quebec!

The Ikon Pass is on sale now, see details at www.ikonpass.com. IKON Access is unlimited at 14 ski resorts: Steamboat, Winter Park Resort, Copper Mountain, Eldora Mountain Resort, Squaw Alpine, Mammoth, Big Bear, June, Crystal Mountain (upon Alterra’s purchase completion), Stratton, Snowshoe, Tremblant, and Blue Mountain. Plus ski privileges at 21 more…

IKON Pass holders get 7 days each at Deer Valley, Jackson Hole, Big Sky, Killington, Revelstoke, and Sugarbush. Plus…

IKON pass holders get 7 days combine at Aspen’s 4 mountains, and 7 at Alta/Snowbird, 7 days at Canada’s Big3 Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise and Norquay, and 7 days between Loon, Sunday River and Sugarloaf.

Alterra’s IKON Pass is $999, there’s also a kids pass for $199 with parents purchase. For a lower price point, there’s a slightly more restricted IKON Base pass at $599 (basically 5 days at the restricted resorts versus 7, with black out dates and a few caveats).

The IKON is very competitive with Vail Resort’s Epic Pass, priced at $899 for unlimited skiing at 19 ski resorts and 7 days each at 4 more.  Vail resorts include:  Colorado’s Vail, Beaver Creek,  Breckenridge,  Keystone,  Crested Butte and Arapahoe Basin, Park City in Utah,  Whistler Blackcomb, California’s Heavenly,  Northstar,  Kirkwood,  Vermont’s Stowe and Okemo, and Mount Sunapee in NH,  Wilmot,  Mt Brighton,  Afton Alps,  and Perisher Australia, and  added for 2018 – Telluride for 7 days skiing !  The Epic Pass also has great free ski benefits in the Alps, Verbier, Les Trois Vallees, and Hakuba Japan – so many ski resorts.

Well, skiers are the winners in this big mountain pass blow up, with great choices at significant savings versus the old-school one-mountain season pass at over $1,000!

Ikon Pass Resorts: California: Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain, Big Bear Mountain Resort Washington: Crystal Colorado: Aspen Snowmass, Steamboat, Winter Park Resort, Copper Mountain, Eldora Mountain Resort Maine: Sugarloaf, Sunday River Montana: Big Sky Resort New Hampshire: Loon Mountain Resort Utah: Deer Valley Resort, Alta Ski Area, Snowbird, Solitude Vermont: Stratton, Killington Resort West Virginia: Snowshoe Wyoming: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Ontario, Canada: Blue Mountain Quebec, Canada: Tremblant British Columbia: 10% CMH Heli-Summer Adventures, sorry no heli-skiing.

Alterra Mountain Company now operates 13 destinations plus Aspen’s 4, Steamboat and Winter Park Resort in Colorado; Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain and Big Bear Mountain Resort in California; Stratton in Vermont; Snowshoe in West Virginia; Tremblant in Quebec, Blue Mountain in Ontario; Deer Valley and Solitude in Utah; plus CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures in British Columbia. The Ikon Pass includes these, plus Boyne resorts, Powder and a few others.

Where are you skiing this season? See our Guide to the Top Ski Resorts and our Guide to Skiing the Alps to plan your winter!

Copyright 2018, by Heather Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com 

 

 

What Are The Mental Benefits of Skiing?

Did you know that in the U.S., around 77% of people regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress? You probably know the feeling: a racing heartbeat, tiredness, worry and the like. It doesn’t affect adults exclusively, of course; kids, too, can find it hard to negotiate daily life, as they attempt to juggle academic, sporting, and social goals. There is a perfect antidote to stress and anxiety, though, and it’s called a family ski vacation. Here are the mental benefits of one of the world’s best loved family sports.

Fascinating Findings on Skiing

A study published in the Applied Research in Quality of Life, undertaken in three major ski resorts, found that the joy people feel when zooming over the slopes on skis or a snowboard, can significantly increase overall happiness. This is true for both seasoned and occasion skiers.

The head researcher of the survey, Hyun-Woo Lee, surveyed 279 visitors at these resorts. He assessed their happiness level by asking them to report on their level of ‘flow’ or engagement in the activity, and their sense of satisfaction after a day out on the slopes.

The results showed that the more one felt ‘in the flow’, the greater was the impact on happiness. ‘Being in the flow’ or ‘in the Zone’ occurs when we become fully mindful of the activity we are engaging in, forgetting about everything else except the present moment.

In essence, deep engagement in skiing or snowboarding can enhance one’s positivity, even when one returns to normal life. Said the lead researcher, “Playfulness can influence people’s happiness, while activities and socially convening around a sporting activity such as skiing have positive psychological outcomes and contribute to overall well-being. This is also true for people who only casually participate in sports.”

Complementary Steps to Fight Stress

The above findings are one reason why sport is so often recommended for stress, a condition which experts recommend tackling from a multi-faceted perspective. That is, while you are skiing, it is important to boost the effects by consuming a sound diet and consider supplements to stimulate brain function. This will also helps you fight stress and promote a better night’s sleep.

Being Together, Away from it All

A recent review published at Texas A&M University, begins with this simple yet impactful statement: “For generations, a highlight of childhood memories included the family vacation.” The review, meritorious of reading by anyone interested in family dynamics, noted that as Americans started dedicating more time to their careers, they began travelling less as a family, thus leading in increases in stress and decreases in family time.

The report notes that travel (including ski trips and any activity adults and kids can enjoy together) benefits us in three important ways:

·      By creating stronger family connection and lifetime ski memories.

·      By improving the quality of relationships and reducing the likelihood of distancing.

·      By increasing individual and total family happiness, wellbeing, and overall quality of life.

Taking a ski holiday together as a family, one in which we disconnect completely from the things that keep us apart on a daily basis, is not a matter of luxury, but one of necessity. Enjoying a skiing holiday allows us to kill two birds with one stone, in that skiing and snowboarding are strongly mindful pursuits (i.e. they allow us to enjoy a sole mindful experience), but they also provide plenty of opportunity to enjoy the slopes (and a nice cup of steaming cocoa) afterwards, together.

See our Guide to the Top Ski Resorts for your Family Vacation
Top 10 New England Ski Resorts for Families
Top 10 Western Ski Resorts for Families
Top Canada Ski Resorts for Families
Top European Ski Resorts for Families
Top Family Ski Resorts in the World

Wes Mills Ski Day – Best Ski Buddy Ever

February 3 is a day we remember our best ski buddy, Wes Mills of Kennebunk Maine.  Wes Mills Ski Day is celebrated at Sunday River annually on his birthday, sadly in his absence – we lost Wes too soon after his valiant battle against renal carcinoma that took him away on September 28, 2016. But his ski spirit lives on in our hearts, our minds, we all continue to “Ski some lines for Wes” …among his beautiful parting words to ski friends.

Wes was a true hero in a sense, and a top alpine supporter. How many people thought of Wes Mills as their best ski buddy? That was one of Wes’ many gifts. Wes always brought joy, humor and love – everywhere he went, and always to the ski slopes. He wouldn’t want us to be sad …he would want us to be happy – glad we knew him, happy for our mountain adventures with him, he’d want us to carry on – to carry him in our memory skiing, biking, boating.

To know Wes was to love him. He was the mayor at Sunday River, the committee boat at Stage Harbor, the chief of mountain bike rides. Wes loved everything about the great state of Maine – in all seasons – the mountains, the ocean, the lakes, the trails. But his passion for skiing, for hiking to an untracked summit with his buds, that was pure joy to him. His mom said, “We didn’t let our 3 boys play basketball, because winter weekends were for skiing.”

Wes travelled the globe in search of deep powder with his ski posse – from Jordan Bowl to Japan with SAAS, Sunday River to the Swiss Alps, making new friends at every turn, cherishing every moment, every run. He could tele like nobody’s business, except perhaps for his son Wes who literally followed in his tracks.

Another of Wes’ great gifts, when you spoke with him, he made you feel like you were the only one in the room, the only thing that mattered at that moment. He cared, and he remembered – even the things you hoped he would forget. “Hey Heather, remember that time you were petrified to go heli skiing? Look at you now, attagirl.”

As friend Doug Patey said, “There was always just one more ridge to summit for Wes.” His energy and enthusiasm was boundless. He’d say, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” Wes’ playfulness and passion for the outdoors were extraordinary. He would also find something tremendously positive about the conditions, a perfect patch of cord, or soft carve-able snow on an otherwise firm fast freezing day. He prioritized fun, and friends, and family.

Wes always brought his best, never complained or tuckered out. He found humor in everything. He was strong but humble, a tease but only in kindness and thoughtfulness. He climbed every mountain, carved every slope, lived life to the fullest.

Friend Bill Basset said, “I think Wes wanted to be buried in his ski boots.” Well, he will be in our ski thoughts, in our pockets and packs on those perfect powder days, and when its sleet and hail, we’ll find the silver lining and think of our amazing optimistic friend, forever… this ski season, and always.

Friends of Wes will gather at Barker Mountain at Sunday River on February 3, Wes’ birthday, ski some lines for him, then meet up after for après ski drinks at Barker Bar. Wes’ skis are mounted above the Barker Bar. Also prophetic, in 2018-19 The Weather Channel has named a winter snow storm for ” Wesley”.

Heather Burke, in loving memory of Wes Mills, best ski buddy ever….

Copyright 2018, by Heather Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com  Photos by Greg Burke of Luxury Vacation Guide

 

Why We Ski?

My 25-year-old-year-old son’s girlfriend didn’t grow up skiing…. so when visiting him in Seattle she couldn’t fathom why we so wanted to ski with him, in Washington. Why is skiing so important to you, she asked? Don’t we just like to hang out together? Which brought me to thinking about why we ski, why it’s important to us, why its our family sport…

Well, let’s see…. How do you explain to a non-skier your lifelong love of skiing? How do you capture in words the bond that skiing can bring? “The family that skis together, freeze together” …lol…

Ever since our kids were three, skiing is the one thing we could all do together … I can’t name another sport or activity that provides us all with excitement, fun, healthy exercise, laughs, stories, memories, and love. We can’t play football together – too rough a sport, and family game night inevitably ends in someone winning and by default – others losing. Perhaps we’re too competitive for cards and board games (being a writer, I want to school them all in scrabble).

Back to skiing, we each have our individual experience on our skis, our own signature turns on the snow, but simultaneously it’s our collective shared experience. Together, we brave the cold, breathe in the spectacular scenery, actively pursue nature’s glory, conquer the mountain, leave our tracks, keep our memories. Yes we could all be sitting on a beach together but where is the adrenaline adventure in that? I picture my husband and son glazing over, my daughter and I burning to a crisp…

As I reflect on raising our kids, I am flooded with fun memories – many of them skiing. I remember the joys (and concerns) of starting them on snow when they were so little, and the ensuing accomplishments, pizza pie to French fries, Ian’s first non-stop bump run at Vail, Aspen’s Prima Cornice cliff drop that same day. What a fantastic family day that was! Skiing the snow and sun soaked trees at Steamboat, the four of us in perfect synch, I can picture it still like a snow globe. If I say the words “Canis Lupus”  the kids will grin at our fun twisty gulley run down The Canyons trail through the woods at Park City.

Cat skiing in Idaho was amazing with a fun bunch of adults, and our mature-beyond-his-years son who impressed the posse with his skill, vocab, and worldliness. I could go on for days recounting our downhill adventures.

Our skiing adventures have already spanned three decades, and three generations. We’ve skied with Greg’s Dad, my Dad, Greg’s uncle, his brothers – who share the passion, my mom who still rips, and my brother Brian (who makes snowboarding look like poetry btw – and can switch to skiing in a mountain minute) all together with our kids – who are now grown, independent, and still love to ski. … with us! They buy their own season passes now, a true sign of commitment and addiction to the sport! We can reconnect at ski resorts and have a real adventure together leaving everything else in our sparkly snow dust.

I know of no other sport that offers the opportunity to travel to a vast bucket list of ski resorts around the globe, with the bonus of high alpine beauty. Another benefit is that skiing is a full day’s activity – unlike tennis that lasts an hour – with a winner and a loser again – like family game night. When we got boating, we each water ski for about 15 minutes, that’s it! One and done…

I also believe you can enjoy skiing among multiple ability levels. We don’t all ski the same, we have different skill sets and terrain preferences. I’m nostalgic just  reflecting on our trails  choices over the years, bumps, trees, steeps with the kids… Anyhoo… most ski resorts allow us to indulge our faves: moguls, glades, groomed or untracked powder, often all from the same lift. So Jack can ski Black, Jane can ski Blue and Jill Green and we can all meet at the lift for the conversational ride back up together. At minimum we can meet for lunch and at après ski to share our day’s stories, wind blown pow, wipe-outs and wicked good lines.

So back to our trip to Seattle, Washington, and what to do together as a family? The beauty of this part of the world, The Pac Northwest, is its plethora of big mountains, in surprisingly close proximity to the city and the sea. Summit at Snoqualmie and Crystal were both calling us, just over an hour away… how could we not want to ski? We “4 skiers” (my license plate for many years – till it became a problem – separate blog) all enjoy exploring new mountains, making tracks and carving our names on spectacular summits all over the country …. It’s what we do, and we can do it together.

I hope we can share our family’s love of skiing with others, with our kids’ loved ones, their future families, as our parents did with Greg and me. I hope to ski with my mom and my kids again…as we did in Big Sky Montana a few years ago… that was magical to me. Just last weekend, we met up with our daughter Aspen and her friends at Sunday River. We shared a few laps, and lots of laughs. Skiing with family and friends is social, stimulating, and creates a bond like no other. Let me know if you find one?

I received a joyous note from a best gal pal who’d re-joined the sport last week with mutual friends. The enthusiasm in her voice was palpable, how she loved skiing, loved that she could do it with her husband and our friends. Their picture from après ski told the story of their collective fun, accomplishment, and enhanced friendship shared over a sport.

We will continue to love skiing as our glue!

Copyright 2018, by Heather Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com  Photos by Greg Burke of Luxury Vacation Guide

 

 

Where was the snow in 2018?

Where was the snow for winter 2018 ski friends?
Skiers are always lusting for the best snow conditions. It’s a cat and mouse chase… as the weather is as fickle as Tweety and Sylvester. This year the chase is real, while the Rockies, particularly Utah and Colorado, haven’t gotten big snow or consistent cold, The East, The Alps and The Pac North West have seen big snow accumulation, cool temps and great ski conditions to start the season.

Top ski resorts in the East like Sugarbush, Okemo, Jay Peak, Mount Snow, Pico and Stowe are wide-open by New Year’s, that’s something to pop Champagne about. Its been uber cold to perserve New England’s snow, perhaps a bit too cold for skiers though when well below zero!

Meanwhile, Park City Utah is balmy, with just 60 of its 300 + trails open, yikes! Aspen’s four mountains are just 20% open. South West Colorado and New Mexico are downright snow-deprived. Same goes for Tahoe ski resorts in California. Meanwhile, Grand Targhee in Wyoming is 100% open, and nearby Jackson Hole is looking good! So is Montana, big snow at Big Sky, Great Divide, and Whitefish. In the Pacific Northwest, where we are headed in January, Stevens Pass and Snoqualmie are 100% with 50-100” base depths of natural snow!

Canada’s Rockies are strong, with the majority of terrain open at steep Kicking Horse, Panorama, Big White which we skied and loved last season, Lake Louise, and Sunshine in Banff, and Whistler Blackcomb, where we’ll ski January. In Quebec, its been frigid, and Tremblant and Mont Sainte Anne are frosty with snow.

The biggest snow of the season is in the Alps! The French Alps, Austria and Switzerland have all been hammered with December snow, all white for the holidays and the start to the year. St Anton Austria already has base depths of 250cm, Verbier Switzerland is reporting 10 feet of snow so far.

So if you like to go to the snow, follow us here at Family Ski Trips. We started our ski season at Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont, where they’d blown piles of man made, and early December brought natural snow to complement their conditions. Similarly Bretton Woods and the Mount Washington Resort just before Christmas had us skiing natural glades and gorgeous groomers with 5 inches of fluff on top – white Christmas in New Hampshire’s White mountains!

Next up, we’ll be skiing Whistler Blackcomb in the new year, as well as Washington’s ski resorts Snoqualmie and Crystal – so says our crystal ball.

Snow prayers for Colorado where we head in February for Copper On Snow Demos, skiing at Steamboat and Vail too!

We are Alps bound mid-winter visiting Portes Du Soliel – the largest ski terrain in the world which spans 12 resorts between Mont Blanc in France and Lake Geneva in Switzerland.

We’ll end our winter at one of our favorite ski resort on the planet, Big Sky, this Montana resort never disappoints with its big mountain terrain, beautiful views and cool vibe.

Where are you skiing this season? See our Guide to the Top Ski Resorts and our Guide to Skiing the Alps to plan your 2018 winter of skiing!

Copyright 2018, by Heather Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com

Top 10 Apres Ski Tips

How to Après Ski Like a Pro…

My friends ask me, “do I have to ski to après ski?” This naive inquiry comes mostly from my gal pals , who fear getting cold, hurt or embarrassed, but don’t want to miss a good party. I have decided to let them in on our after skiing social since the ratio of ladies to dudes at ski resorts bars is sadly disproportionate. However, I do ask that non-skiers make an effort to understand the skiing lifestyle and après ski culture. Most importantly, I advise them not to start conversations with “I wish I could ski, looks fun, but it terrifies me.” Or “I hate the cold.” And “I’m afraid of heights.”

Here’s a guide of how to be a good après skier!
You can join in all the fun and camaraderie over cocktails, ok – predominantly beer,  without the risk of falling on the slopes, totally avoiding the cold and the cost of a lift ticket.

To excel at après ski requires much less athletic prowess than skiing or snowboarding, you just need to balance on a bar stool, maybe navigate snow base lodge stairs. As a non-skier, you can show up to the slope-side bar looking fresh, no helmet hair or sweaty UnderArmour, and jump in as if you have been carving cord all day.

Here are some après ski practice tips, so that you are top notch, and can fit in with your fall line friends as soon as snow flies.

  1. Dress like a skier. Look like you skied even though you didn’t.
  2. No need to wear ski boots, real skiers take them off for serious après ski. Instead opt for visible ski socks with loose Merrill’s or LL bean boots (when in Maine). Ladies can don furry boots, but be careful not to look to chi chi or haute-maintenance in the mountains. You are pretending you skied, right snow bunny?!
  3. Get yourself a prime bar stool, near the window so you can watch the descending last chair lappers. Point outside, laugh, as if that awkward guy who is actually skiing is a bigger loser than you. LOL
  4. Tip the bartender early and enthusiastically. Remember their name, share yours. You will look like a regular.
  5. Bring a puppy (pet friendly bars only) and say you’re training your Dog  for patrol and avalanche rescue. Wait and watch as your dog, and eventually you, receive ridiculous amounts of attention.
  6. Bring attractive friends if the puppy ploy seems staged and you don’t actually own a dog.
  7. Wear an air cast and have an epic, convincing story about your double black diamond crash that was not caught on tape – sadly.
  8. When asked in too much detail about your ski day, deflect – ask them: what’s your favorite trail, what do you ski on, how many millimeters under foot, how many ski days do you usually bag in a season? etc… Skiers love to brag and boast.
  9. Don’t dance in your bare feet, rookie move. There are sloppy skiers in ski boots on the dance floor – ouch! Unless you are going for the “après ski injury” and sympathy vote.
  10. Don’t get hammered… that’s not pretty in any sport or season…sure, do one shot ski to cross it off your bucket list – and because its “trust building” exercise with your new ski buddies – but know when to say when.  Cheers! See our Favorite Après Ski Bars on the Planet… seriously consider Learning to Ski or Trying to Snowboard!

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Ski Magazine Top Ski Resort rankings?!

Dear Ski Magazine,

I love you – I always will…but… your top 50?! I’m not sure…

Seriously I have loved you since my youth, you made me want to be a better skier, and to be a ski journalist. I love seeing you, Ski mag, in my mailbox… it makes my banal schlep to the Post Office feel like a powder day. And your fall edition, with the Top 50 Resorts Readers’ Picks, has always been my favorite flavor of the month issue.

In recent years, however, this Top Ski Resort Guide evokes skepticism on my part… like this year…

Best skiing in the west: Sun Valley #2? Really?! Jackson Hole is awarded the most “terrain variety” … I beg to differ. I’m a well-traveled skier, at 165 ski resorts and counting…  Big Sky (at #13?) in my opinion ranks much higher than Keystone. Similarly Snowbird (#17) is far superior skiing to Crested Butte (#14). Same can be said for Snowbasin at #25.

In the East, I love seeing Sugarbush climb to #2, but Mount Snow is surely not #3 in New England. Stowe (#8) should earn much higher in ranks than Jay Peak (#5). Surprising to see Mad River Glen at #6, but I appreciate the authenticity of the skiers-only mountain. Same goes for Sugarloaf and its loyal following and avid voters deeming it #7 (Sugarloafers probably think this number 7 rank is a travesty for their beloved Maine mountain, should be #1 in their minds). I’d put Sunday River and Killington well ahead of Loon for that matter.

Here’s our Top Ski Resorts in The West
Aspen Snowmass
Big Sky Montana
Steamboat Colorado
Vail Colorado 
Deer Valley
Telluride
Snowbird Utah
Jackson Hole Wyoming
Mammoth Mountain California
Snowbasin Utah
Honorable Mention:
Whitefish – aka Big Mountain – Montana

Top Ski Resorts in The East
Stowe Vermont
Okemo Mountain Resort
Sunday River
Sugarbush
Bretton Woods
Sugarloaf
Smugglers Notch
Loon Mountain
Wildcat New Hampshire 
Le Massif in Quebec

Top Ski Resorts in Canada
Sunshine at Banff
Big White
Kicking Horse
Whistler Blackcomb
Lake Louise
Revelstoke
Panorama
Le Massif Quebec
Tremblant Quebec
Mont Sainte Anne Quebec

I respect that your Readers’ Choice Top 50 Resorts are the result of a ballot, but given the weird results – I wonder if some ski resorts might be ballot-stuffing, or perhaps cultish ski locals are over-voting to put their beloved ski area on top. Or maybe personal taste is just that… no accounting for it…

Thanks of listening, and let me know how you find our Top Ski Resorts Reviews… keep skiing and striving to be the best.

Sincerely,

Ski Magazine reader and passionate skier, forever Heather
Editor FamilySkiTrips.com and TheLuxuryVacationGuide.com

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