Italian skiers love long lunch breaks. Those in Spain enjoy nightlife that begins at midnight and lasts until a breakfast of churros con chocolate is on the table. But no one knows how to have fun like the Austrians. These and other more utilitarian facts about skiing at 75 European resorts are in Charles Leocha's Ski Europe. Now in its 11th edition, the book covers all the basics a Europe-bound skier needs to know, along with insider tips for seasoned travelers. Whether you're seeking a cozy family retreat or an extreme ski experience, Ski Europe answers questions about terrain, lift tickets, childcare, restaurants and lodging. Packed with money- and time-saving hints, as well as hundreds of phone numbers and addresses, the book is written in an easy-reading style, with anecdotes of the author's on-snow experiences. Ski Europe's only omission is trail maps. Price: $19.95; World Leisure Corporation; (617) 569-1966.
The Skier's Book Of Trail Maps
If you've ever sat around the fireplace trying to remember the name of the double-black diamond that ate you for breakfast, your book has arrived. The Skier's Book Of Trail Maps features color trail maps and vital statistics of more than 80 North American ski resorts, and is an entertaining way to reminisce about past triumphs or plan a day at an unfamiliar mountain. For now, The Book Of Trail Maps has a couple of shortcomings-some of the biggies are noticeably absent, such as Vail, Colo., and Sunday River, Maine. And a few of the maps are poorly reproduced-but authors Cynthia Blair and Mike Bell have hit on a winning idea with their book, which is updated annually. Price: $20; Dandelion Press; (800) 263-1991; www.skibook.com.
The Price Is Right
If you're planning a budget-conscious trip this winter, you'll want to check out onlinevacationmall.com (OVM). Because OVM works with Southwest Airline Vacations, United Vacations and Mountain Vacations, you can research and book a trip to just about any ski destination through OVM. If you're not ready to book a trip on-line, simply use OVM as a research tool (the site features photos and detailed descriptions of all the properties it books) or test your luck in the weekly ski vacation giveaway.
The site's best feature may be its "Hot Deals" button, featuring last-minute discounts on trips about a month before departure. For example, last spring, five nights in Vail went as low as $794, including roundtrip air, transfers, lodging and lift tickets. If you don't have time for daily browsing, register with OVM and they'll send you e-mails on deals to destinations you've selected. E-commerce has arrived.
Short Skis Don't Suck
In Wildcat, N.H., size does matter. One Sunday each month, patrons pay 15 cents per centimeter of their skis or snowboards for a lift ticket. "We have a post outside the ticket booth with a tape measure on it," explains Wildcat's Brian Hendricks. For a typical adult male skier, this translates to: standard 200 cm ski, $30; 185 cm super-sidecut, $27; 150 cm snowboard, $23. A weekend adult ticket usually costs $49. "We see a lot of families and people who don't ski much," Hendricks says. What he doesn't see is a lot of people on their downhill skis on Centimeter Day. But with the new, tiny skiboards now hitting the slopes, the resort isn't going to be caught short. "We have a 130 cm price minimum," he qualifies.