In this issue, our focus is on instruction as we dissect the challenges facing our ski schools ("Ski School Revolution") and also profile some of the best ski clinics available in North America ("Get Better").
At some point during your Tremblant vacation, you'll see a small knot of serious people strolling the village taking notes. These are rival ski executives making a pilgrimage (and shaking their heads about their own pitiful villages back home).
What do you do when you almost have it all? Loon Mountain, with its velvety smooth grooming, popular family programs and ideal location (two hours from Boston yet at a high enough elevation to get real snow) has asked itself just that. The answer this year is finesse.
Stowe's considerable charm is about to become more charming. A $220 million expansion plan is moving ahead. Among other things, it includes additional lifts, snowmaking and terrain, along with a "hamlet" at the base of Spruce Peak.
Alta's unassailable charms are snow (abundant and as dry as the perfect martini), terrain (wide-open flanks punctuated with butt-clenching steeps) and value ($40 a day), categories it is accustomed to dominating in the annual rankings.
At more than 3,000 acres and 4,400 vertical feet, Snowmass proves huge is better by providing just about everything you could want in a ski vacation. "Terrain variety is exceptional, and it never seems crowded," a reader says.
When the Weather Channel makes its annual stakeout of western New York to tell the country lake-effect tales of woe, skiers at the east end of Lake Erie grin in anticipation. They know one of those prodigious snow bands is likely to lash Holiday Valley, perhaps the best ski area between the Adirondacks and the Rockies.
Thanks to some management changes at the top, Sunday River is now sporting a newer, happier attitude, causing one reader to call it "a civilized version of Killington." But its biggest success is still the Les Otten formula of snowmaking, grooming and lots of fast lifts.