Following an unusually dry January for most western ski areas, Utah resorts finally returned to the deep-powder conditions skiers and snowboards have come to expect from the area's legendary powder factories.
It must be the air. Up a couple of spots from last year's rankings, Alberta's breathtaking Lake Louise resort sparked passionate responses from its supporters. "It's the most romantic ski resort on the continent," gushes an admirer.
Sun Valley's owner, Earl Holding, might be forgiven for not financing a lot of new projects last year. He did, after all, funnel some $70 million into his other mountain, Snowbasin, Utah, the 2002 Winter Olympic downhill and super G venue. This suits many Sun Valley loyalists fine.
Cannon's not for wimps. Got it? If you need pampering, posh slopeside dining and lodging or tony boutiques, this state-run mountain ain't for you, honey. But if you thrive on challenge, demand variety of terrain and know how to dress warm, then one of New England's oldest, toughest mountains awaits.
Great snowmaking and grooming make this resort a dependable favorite for skiers in the Mid-Atlantic. Seven Springs boasts some of the best infrastructure in the world-no surprise, given that one of the owners is the inventor of the tower gun.
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.
Stratton made the biggest leap of any resort this year-moving up from No. 17 to No. 4-by catering to a well-heeled clientele who prefer gliding down corduroy to launching off bumps. Since becoming part of the Intrawest family in 1994, Stratton has invested millions into updating and renovating the faux-Bavarian resort to meet the demands of the metro-New York families who frequent it.
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.