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Top Ski Writers’ Top Ski Resorts

As ski journalists, we have the enviable job of traveling to ski resorts and sharing our likes, dislikes, and love of the sport of skiing. Not only do I love my travel writing work, (please no job applications – I’m set) I also enjoy reading ski resort reviews from my peers, fellow ski writers. A departure from my favorite ski resorts reviewed, here are my best colleagues in the ski biz sharing their top ski resorts, along with their humor and inside tracks:

Favorite Ski Resort from Eric Wilbur, talented sports writer with whom I worked at Boston.com for a decade.

“It’s quite difficult to narrow this down to a singular superlative. The best North American resort I’ve skied with kids? Sunday River. Site of the best powder day I’ve ever experienced? Magic Mountain. The best vibe I’ve ever felt at a resort? Copper Mountain. The best place I’ve visited, but never skied? Kirkwood (Sitting at the base all day with an ACL tear, all while hearing avalanche control in the midst of a total whiteout also qualifies as the greatest, individual torture at a ski resort).

But ever since my first visit more than a quarter-century ago, Stowe has consistently remained my favorite place to ski, a matter that speaks about as much about the mountain’s history as it does Stowe’s infamous terrain and the resort’s brand of mountain luxe. Few experiences are comparable to a spring-time bump run down Hayride, or a mid-winter duck in the woods wherever you might choose not to tell. Skiing these trails, so steeped in lore matters so much more, particularly in creating the soul of a skier. Cookie cutter slopes serve a purpose elsewhere, but at Stowe the skiing is about immersing yourself into a culture that has come to define the Vermont outdoors.

Yes, you can pay heftily for the experience. But in a world of Big Mac skiing and riding, Stowe remains that James Beard destination that lives up to the exorbitance. The drive up Mountain Road still delivers a unique anticipation upon approach, no matter how many times I’ve made the drive. And when the day is through, I can always count on the Front Four winking at me in the dusk, as if knowingly scheduling my inevitable return. ”

Eric Wilbur is a freelance writer and a member of NASJA whose work has appeared in The Boston Globe, Boston.com, The New England Ski Journal, and Boston Metro. Samples of his work can be found at ericwilbur.tumblr.com and www.facebook.com/GlobeEricWilbur

 

 

Top Ski Resort from Rich Stoner of All About Après, who I typically find in the ski bars “researching” though we hit first chair at Okemo on an epic snow day:

“I love Deer Valley and Vail is, of course, epic, but there is just something about your home mountain that makes it…well, home. For me that resort is Mount Snow. It’s where I learned to ski oh so many years ago and it shames me to say that it took me 25 years to eventually go back. However, now that I’ve returned, I plan on being there for a while, especially since my three daughters also learned to ski there and it holds a sentimental place in my heart, having created a lifetime of future memories.Despite this emotional connection, Mount Snow is also a darn good resort. They have come a really long way since I first visited, oh so many years ago and continue to evolve each season with a host of improvements to the overall mountain scene. Now, with snow making capabilities that are arguably the best in the East and apres ski offerings guaranteed to satisfy everyone, Mount Snow has proven to be the perfect ski resort for my family to call home.

I’ve experienced it all at Mount Snow. From warm, rainy days that have created gnarly ice coast conditions, to deep pow that produced incredible gladed runs (duck in off Olympic, you won’t regret it) you just never know what the weather will bring to southern Vermont. However, having spent $30 million last summer upgrading their snowmaking system to a capacity that is, basically, unlimited, what you do know is that they can rebound from these unpredictable temperature swings very quickly while producing a much longer ski season. This alone makes Mount Snow worth the trip because you’ll be skiing more trails with more snow and for longer than most other eastern resorts.

However, increased skiing is only the half of it. We are, after all, All About Apres and when the snow is skied off, later in the day, there are après options galore, all right there for the taking. Need to recharge at the summit? Head to The Bullwheel for some tasty Bloodies and pretzel sticks dipped in cinnamon butter. Bypass the line for the tables and walk straight to the bar to order, then head out on the deck and drink in the view. Done for the day and don’t want to deal with wait service? Canned is your gig. Serving craft beers in cans from Vermont, its simplistic approach will have you thirst quenched in no time. If drinking from the can is not your thing, then head upstairs to The Taproom Station. They, too, have quite the selection of brews (on tap and in bottles) for the savvy craft beer drinker and a few more food options as well. Finally, if you are looking to really go next level and party a bit more, then you need to take in all that is Bruce Jacques and his Saturday shows at Cuzzins. Get there early or you’ll struggle to get in at all. Once inside, there is no shortage of table-dancing après skiers singing along with Bruce as he plays his set while donning a variety of outlandish costumes and interacting with the crowd that is, very much, all in. Trust me, you just won’t be able to peel yourself away, no matter how hard you try.  It’s this type of “can’t stay away” mantra that defines how I feel about Mount Snow. Now that I’m back, the improvements in snow making and incredible variety of apres ski options will keep my family and me there for a long while.”

– Rich Stoner – From first chair to last, call he’s bound to be laying down tracks or throwing back beers with family and friends somewhere in the mountains. www.allaboutapresski.com @allaboutapres

Favorite Western Resort – Snowbasin – Rich Stoner, All About Après
“Wait until you see the lodges at Snowbasin, there is nothing like them. And, the bathrooms…yes, the bathrooms, are nicer than anything you’d see at a high end wedding. Sounds a bit odd for a ski resort, especially one that, all things being considered, is not on too many lists as being super posh. But, that’s what you get when you’re a Sun Valley property and your owner really wants the Salt Lake City Olympics at his resort. Nothing says the Olympics like Venetian chandeliers hanging from the lodge’s ceilings. However, for as opulent as these buildings are, it is still hard to define Snowbasin as a showy resort. There’s some seriously sick skiing complemented by ridiculously tasty culinary delights both of which know no boundaries.

Breakfast is something that I usually skip out on when skiing but when the menu in Earl’s Lodge offers Smoked Beef Brisket Hash and Eggs, that’s a dish that cannot be overlooked. With two runny fried eggs oozing goodness all over the perfectly smoked brisket hash, this is a breakfast entree you cannot pass up. It’s delicious and is sure to have you energized for some incredible skiing. When it comes to skiing, what truly makes Snowbasin special, is the notion that you can pretty much ski anywhere. I can remember riding the lift up with Paul Marshal of Ski Utah and pointing out something that looked like a ravine saying, “That might be fun to ski.” So we did. With nothing but open bowls, the idea of defined trails is a notion that should be forgotten for the day. You can and should go anywhere. From The Sister’s Bowl to local favorite, Lone Tree Chute, it’s all there for the taking.

When you’re a little spent and need a lunch break, there’s no better place than the John Paul Lodge. With insane 360° views complemented by the “Best in Snow” winning chili or the John Paul ‘Mondo” Pastrami Burger (yes, that’s a thing) you may need a nap before you head back out, but head back out you must. The lift lovingly named, “The Beer Can” is right there to take you to the mens’ and womens’ Olympic downhill courses, and you need to try them. Want to burn off all of those, oh so worth it, calories? See if you can make it down either course in one shot. You may not have anything left in the tank after that, but if you do, head back up, there’s plenty more to shred. However, if your day does end there, quads sore and stomach full, grab a beer and a seat on the expansive patio at Earl’s Lodge.  There, you can look back out at the mountain and reminisce about the epic freedom to ski and fantastic fare that makes Snowbasin so special.”

– Rich Stoner –  www.allaboutapresski.com @allaboutapres

Photos by Greg Burke, More Top Ski Resorts:
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

 

Vail Epic Pass is more epic for 2019

Vail Resort’s Epic Pass keeps getting bigger and better, and the price stays amazingly affordable for all this skiing, under $1,000. The Epic Pass is priced at $949 for unlimited skiing at 20 Vail owned ski resorts and 7 days each at many more, plus ski pass benefits in the Alps, for a grand total of 65 resorts.  Vail Resorts now include:  Colorado’s Vail, Beaver Creek,  Breckenridge,  Keystone,  Crested Butte in Colorado, Park City in Utah,  Whistler Blackcomb in Canada, California’s Heavenly,  Northstar,  and Kirkwood,  Washington’s Stevens Pass, Vermont’s Stowe,  Okemo, NH’s Mount Sunapee, the Midwest’s Wilmot,  Mt Brighton,  Afton Alps,  and Perisher Australia.

Additional ski benefits to Epic Passholders  for 2019-20 – include Telluride, Sun Valley & Snowbasin, and the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies!  Plus 5 days at Hakuba Japan.

In Europe, the Epic Pass also allows for ski tickets in the French Alps – Les 3 Vallees in  (think Courchevel, Val Thorens and Meribel), Paradiski – Les Arcs and La Plagne, and Val D’Isere Tignes, plus Skirama Dolomiti Adamello Brenta in Italy, 4 Vallees in Switzerland – which encompasses Verbier, and The Arlberg in Austria – 3 days at Lech Zurs, Stuben, St Christoph and St Anton. Some of these free ski benefits require lodging purchases in The Alps.

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!

If you are planning a couple of weeks out west skiing, or time in The Alps for next season, you should strongly consider buying the Epic Pass, then download the Epic Mix and start bagging serious vertical and bragging rights.

The other amazing pass option is the IKON pass which combines Aspen’s ski resorts (the newly formed Alterra Mountain Company) with Boyne, Powdr and Intrawest Resorts plus some indies for a total of 38 – its another extremely versatile pass valid at  Aspen’s 4 mountains, Steamboat, Winter Park Resort, Copper Mountain, Eldora Mountain Resort, Squaw Alpine Meadows, Mammoth, Big Bear, June, Stratton, Snowshoe, Tremblant, and Blue Mountain.  Plus limited skiing at Deer Valley, Snowbird/Alta, Brighton, Solitude, Jackson Hole, Big Sky, Killington, Revelstoke, and Sugarbush, Canada’s  Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise and Norquay, and Loon, Sunday River and Sugarloaf.

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

Copyright & Photos 2019, by Heather Burke of   FamilySkiTrips.com and Luxury Vacation Guide

Top Spring Ski Events in the East & West

Don’t you love spring skiing? Warm temperatures meet a winter’s worth of snow depths. Ski conditions soften and so do bulky dress codes at the best ski resorts. From music to moguls to general mayhem – these spring fests are super fun:

Top spring ski fests in Colorado, Utah, California, and Montana:
Taste of Vail is a fun food, wine and ski fest – what could be better than skiing spring conditions followed by wine tastings and food from Vail’s top Chefs April 3-6!? Spring Back to  Vail midApril  brings live headliner bands for free concerts to Vail Village. Après ski at Vail just got big and FREE which rarely happens at Vail, right?! Look for parties on the mountain too – like  the Mountaintop Tasting at the top of The Eagle Bahn and Tiki & Tunes Luau at mid-Vail – top of Gondola One.

Vail’s World Pond Skimming Championships is the biggest, April 14 at Golden Peak. Enjoy a BBQ and beers overlooking the big pond where the best and worst) dressed in crazy costumes attempt to cross the big expanse of cold water to the cheers and jeers of a big crowd. Like everything in Vail, this pond skim is massive, so is the crowd of spectators.

Whistler Blackcomb World Ski & Snowboard Festival early April  is a top ski event, bringing together skiing, film, art, professional ski and snowboard competitions, plus top concerts and après ski parties that go crazy late! If you’ve watched Bravo’s Après Ski and Timber Creek Lodge- you know Whistler’s party scene is out of this world.

Park City’s Spring Grüv in Canyons Village starts late March with awesome free concerts and après-ski parties – culminating early April 8 with the 23rd Annual Pond Skimming Contest at Red Pine.

Squaw Valley celebrates PAIN MCSHLONKEY for Shane McConkey, posthumously and humorously – skiers are encouraged to dress up in vintage gear and pay tribute to the legendary free skier by going big March 18.

Steamboat’s Colorado Springalicious 39th annual cardboard classic is mid April  – locals recycle by creating box-cars to derby to fly downhill. The crashes are spectacular, so is the après ski scene at Steamboat.

Breckenridge’s annual Spring Fever Beer Festival early is now in its 13th year. This Colorado spring ski event is perfect for craft beer lovers and spring skiing lovers – that includes everyone right?!

Aspen Highlands Closing Day is an elevated spring ski party – the spring ski celebration above 10,000’ in the Rockies gets wild, with ridiculous retro outfits, serious drinking, even Champagne spraying! Did we mention you’re at 10,000 feet?! High times in Colorado.

Top Spring Ski Events in The East

New England skiers know the best skiing is typically in spring. Put away the facemasks and hand warmers for much welcome warmer sunnier ski days. The hard snow softens, those man made base depths turn to cream corn by mid morning and the BBQ fires up mid afternoon for sun and fun by the slopes. Spring is also a time for pond skimming, zany costumes and competitions on the ski slopes, even tailgating in muddy parking lots. No one said Eastern skiers were sane? But they are hard core! Here are some Eastern spring ski rites of passage and grand season finales full of fun and games, music and grills.

Cannon Mountain Bodefest is early April with Bode Miller himself.. I think he still “hates the media” so don’t bring the news crew but this is a great spring ski event and when the sun shines on cannon Mountain – #boom (cannon sound) .

Killington Bear Mountain Challenge NOR’BEASTER is early April as Bump skiers go all out on Outer Limits moguls. Cheers and beers (sponsor Dos Equis) flow at the base of this spring ski party. The Beast of the East will keep skiing in to May.

Sugarloaf Reggaefest – now in year 30+ is mid April when Jamaica comes to Maine’s mountains. Top reggae bands set up on the Sugarloaf beach by day, and in the base lodge by night for some rocking island music. Wear your tie-dye and tie on a good time. Ironically few reggae fest attendees ski, so this is a great three-day weekend for spring ski conditions at the Loaf, especially when the snowfields are open.

Sunday River’s Spring Festival early April  was once called Parrot Head, so expect Jimmy Buffet music, margaritas flowing, palm trees, tropical outfits and general island vibe outside the White Cap Base.

Loon has 80’s Day early April! Dress in your best (or worst) 1980’s outfit and get out on Loon’s soft slopes. Be totally rad for this spring weekend at North Peak, South Peak and Paul Bunyan’s for après ski! Loon Mountain’s Slushpool Party and Wet Tug-O-War is the following April weekend.

Wildcat has their Annual Cat Scratch Fever event early April as skiers compete to be the Cat’s Meow before the judges. If you’ve seen Wildcat’s Kitty Litter Box Derby in February, don’t miss this wild spring event at the Cat with live après ski entertainment in the Wildcat Pub .

Sugarbush Gelandesprung & Mt. Ellen End of Season Celebration is early April, this traditional ski jump event is a classic – to watch – even wilder to get sprung.

Sugarbush‘s Pond Skimming at Lincoln Peak early April is also a big splash, followed by the legendary Steins’ Challenge on mid April which is spring mogul mania – bring Z rubber knees and short quick skis to Sugarbush.

Okemo’s Slush Cup and Splash for Cash early April is a wet and wild good time with a pretty good pay day for the winner. Okemos 80 Retro Jam is mid April  – rock your most rad 80s attire – totally awesome dude as Okemo wraps their season!

Jay Peak has Pond Skimming and their Annual Tailgate Party mid April, so bring your bikini, beer and your bbq.

Easter Sunday at East Coast ski resorts brings sunrise services at Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Killington, Stowe and Jay Peak….. Most ski resorts have Easter Egg Hunts on the ski slopes for kids, and costume parades, even a visit by the Easter Bunny. Look for a few snow bunnies on the beginner slopes too! Easter weekend is the season finale Sunday for most New England ski resorts.

Best Spring Ski Resorts in The East

Best Spring Skiing Out West

By Heather Burke, Photos by Greg Burke, Copyright Family Ski  Trips 2018

For luxury resort reviews visit: www.theluxuryvacationguide.com

7th Dumont Cup at Sunday River – Bobby Brown wins

sunday-river-chondolaThe sun came out and the skiers went big this weekend at Sunday River’s 7th Annual Dumont Cup. This pro-am event that began humbly in 2008 soon became the greatest free skiing throw down show down in the East, arguably comparable to Aspen’s Winter X Games at Buttermilk since all the top free skiers show up and blow up, competing in Slopestyle against rising talents on Maine’s slopes where the host, Bethel-native Simon Dumont, learned his tricks.

Until 2016, the Dumont Cup was awesome. Featuring back-to-back X Games Gold Medalist Bobby Brown from Colorado who took first place and the cash purse of $7,500 at the 7th annual event, an final Dumont Cup. Filling the podium Silver and Bronze spots were amateur Teal Harle from Canada and X Games Medalist from the UK James Woods. Nine pros and 74 amateur skiers competed in the two-day Dumont Cup before big crowds and their host – 10-time X Games Medalist Simon Dumont who designed the six rail, three jump course on T72 – Sunday River’s 15-acre terrain trail. The field of free skiers included Olympian Joss Christensen and Alex Schlopy – both past Dumont Cup podium winners.

1_sunday_riverThe 7th annual Dumont Cup was also the last, lucky seven, over and out. Simon is more into photography and traveling these days than hosting his own free ski event in which he no longer skis as he pushed 30, a godfather in free ski years.

If you missed the Dumont Cup at Sunday River – well you missed it! You can go ski Sunday River’s T72, an entire trail dedicated to terrain park jumps, rails, quarter pipes and tricks designed by Simon Dumont himself.

Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

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