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National Geographic's 25 Best Ski Towns - Page 3

post #61 of 136

I wouldn't say it's lazy journalism, but it's definitely the work of a journalist who's not well-travelled.

 

The European ski market dwarfs the NA market. And, many of the resorts in the Alps developed from existing towns, so you get places like Engelberg and Alagna, which were founded in the 12th and 13th centuries, respectively, and still have cobbled streets and centuries-old buildings right up next to a ski lift that takes you into some of the best terrain in the world. So, to label this list as the top 25 in the world and then give the largest market in the world only 1/5 of the resorts is just comical. (And keep in mind this is coming from an American.)

 

It would be like a Japanese sports writer publishing an article on the top 25 baseball players of all time and only listing 5 Americans and 1 Latin American.

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #62 of 136

Yeah, but Alagna doesn't stack up with, say, Rossland, BC as a place to grab a beer after skiing. And beer is a pretty important part of the whole ski town thing. Just sayin'.

post #63 of 136

I was just trying to throw in a few European towns that hadn't been mentioned before, especially trying to note some quite old towns. But no, you had to rain on my parade. duel.gif

 

 

post #64 of 136

In a sense, too, a real ski town is far more of an "accomplishment" in North America than in Europe. Here they're kind of the norm. 


BTW, I got up to Flims on Saturday, best day of my season. 

post #65 of 136
Thread Starter 

Are great ski towns ranked on vibe, ski bunnies or best beer?

 

post #66 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post

Are great ski towns ranked on vibe, ski bunnies or best beer?

 



That brings up a good point. In the Alps, there are far more female skiers than in NA from what I've seen, and the general standard of their skiing is higher (that's not to say there aren't good female skiers in NA). In fact, I noticed quite a large number of good looking women working as lifties in Val d'Isere a couple of weeks ago, in addition to the female instructors and tourists on the mountain.

 

Just another advantage of Euro skiing.

post #67 of 136

What constitutes a ski town? If it's anything ski related, somewhere skiing ( any kind ) is in the bone marrow of many of its natives I'd like to mention Oslo in addition to the many others listed in this thread. The best ski-jump arena in the world, the best xc and  biathlon arena, Olympic slalom arena should be difficult to not mention in such a list. This is the place where Sondre Nordheim first showed the Christie stop turn ( Christie is short for Christiania, then the name for Oslo ) after showing his Telemark turns in 1868. Sondre was a son of Telemark, a region of Norway. 

 

In Arlberg, Austria, this turn was refined into what is now modern alpine sports by Hannes Schneider, whose great granddaughter lives in Oslo since many years ( and whom I know ).

 

For those reasons, and the fact that I love both Oslo and St. Anton am Arlberg, these ski towns should be on any list that has to do with skiing. Most people with some knowledge of skiing history would agree.

post #68 of 136

All joking aside, what makes a ski town: walkability, familiarity (eg, seeing and recognizing other skiers), ski buzz and beer. 

post #69 of 136

A real ski town needs a large population of real skiers.

 

I like the feeling when it snows all day and all the roads and sidewalks are snow covered and after skiing people get around the town on their skis.

post #70 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by theelk View Post

  Aspen and Park City should not be on the list because people that live in the area and really want to ski, go to neither of them. 

 

Have you even skied Aspen Mountain?  The whole,  "Highland's is the local's mountain"  was made up after Gerald Hines purchased Highlands and offered the Highlander pass super cheap, so they would let him build his base village.

Most people that live or work in town probably ski Aspen more, just because you can get a lot of runs in fast,  before/after work or during lunch?

 

 

 

post #71 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

 

Have you even skied Aspen Mountain?  The whole,  "Highland's is the local's mountain"  was made up after Gerald Hines purchased Highlands and offered the Highlander pass super cheap, so they would let him build his base village.

Most people that live or work in town probably ski Aspen more, just because you can get a lot of runs in fast,  before/after work or during lunch?

 

 

 



I've skied Highlands, but not the main Aspen resort.  A friend of mine from the dorms at college had a buddy going to CMC so we went out and stayed with him over spring break.  He advised us to not even bother with the main Aspen area saying it was overpriced, over crowded, and under challenging (this was back in 1983).  We did ski Snowmass one day on that trip in addition to Highlands though.  He tuned out to be a very good skier too, not just some hack that didn't really know the areas.  It wouldn't surprise me that Highlands is now as you say relative to Aspen, but it was local insights that lead me to believe it was the locals hunt back in the early 80s.

post #72 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by prickly View Post

I'd have probably thrown Nelson on there too from NorAm, and maybe Breckenridge.  


Nelson is not a ski town. It has what many consider a nice vibe, and you will occasionally see people attempting to hitchhike from the downtown area to the ski area, but seeing people in town dressed for skiing is actually not all that common. Safeway doesn't have to have a sign on the door asking people not to wear their (alpine) ski boots into the store, like they do in, say, Fraser, Colorado. (Alpine ski boots and wet tile floors are a really bad combination. frown.gif )

 

Nelson has only three adequate ski shops. I understand that the availability of boot fitting services has improved, but just a few years ago, nobody in town built custom footbeds. I was informed that the snow conditions in the area did not require a precision fit. I hope that has changed, but I went to Fernie for ski boots. There was, and still is, a shop with a pedorthist who builds prescription medical orthotics, but he doesn't do sports related work.

 

Nelson is at significantly lower elevation than the base of the ski area. Bucolic winter scenes, with white pillows on everything, are rare in these days of global warming. Nelson gets rain while it's dumping at Whitewater. Doesn't help the ambience in town.

 

Similarly, cross-country skiing in the downtown area is not common - you have to climb up to at least the rails-to-trails elevation just above town. Even that is often pretty thin, so it's better to go to Apex or up to Whitewater itself.

 

There is a flip side. There's a park-and-ride lot on the highway to Whitewater where most of the hitchhiking takes place. And many, or most, season pass holders live by the 20cm rule - 20 cm overnight (Whitewater is gracious enough to report the snowfall since closing yasterday) allows you to take at least the morning off to catch some freshies. The lifts start loading at 8:45, but the parking lot is full by 8:15, even on a week day, if there's enough fresh snow to be had.

 

The touring scene is alive, well and extensive. Many people who ski don't have passes. Many who do have passes only ride the lift once or twice a day. Snowmobiles aren't always just for snowmobiling. Many, perhaps more than 50%, of the bindings at the ski area are telemark or AT.

 

As for the list, my performance is no more than fair-to-middling, i.e., mediocre. I have been to 9, skied at 8.
 

 

post #73 of 136

Jeremy Evans wrote a nice little book entitled "In Search of Powder: A Story of America's Disappearing Ski Bum."

He put forward several points in talking about the demise of the ski town concept and the disappearance of its denizens.

1. Corporate ownership and the four season resort concept have led to "resorts" like Copper or Keystone which (while pleasant enough for vacationers) cannot be considered ski towns by any stretch of the imagination; and

2. The rise in real estate values (I know, I know, but they are still pretty high most places) that came with part timers and weekenders buying ski houses drove locals out of ski towns, so few people actually live in many places that were ski towns in the past. He cites South Lake Tahoe as an example, with streets full of empty houses on weekdays.

I think a town needs residents who actually live there to qualify as a ski town. It needs people who have chosen to live there and who accept the limitations that come with the place as a trade-off for the skiing. Otherwise, a place may be a nice resort but it is not really a ski town. Somewhere like Mountain Village near Telluride may be an awesome display of the 1%'s power and money, but it scarcely feels like a ski town.

post #74 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by CerebralVortex View Post

I wouldn't say it's lazy journalism, but it's definitely the work of a journalist who's not well-travelled.

 

The European ski market dwarfs the NA market. And, many of the resorts in the Alps developed from existing towns, so you get places like Engelberg and Alagna, which were founded in the 12th and 13th centuries, respectively, and still have cobbled streets and centuries-old buildings right up next to a ski lift that takes you into some of the best terrain in the world. So, to label this list as the top 25 in the world and then give the largest market in the world only 1/5 of the resorts is just comical. (And keep in mind this is coming from an American.)

 

It would be like a Japanese sports writer publishing an article on the top 25 baseball players of all time and only listing 5 Americans and 1 Latin American.


+1

 

post #75 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post



I've skied Highlands, but not the main Aspen resort. 



you missed out-great terrain, usually few crowds, -had several of my best pow days ever at Aspen-also the ski history there gives it a real buzz as does the view looking into town as you ski. Give it a shot!!

post #76 of 136
Nelson's still on my list. I noticed that about the ski shops too, though, and they close bloody early.
post #77 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post



I've skied Highlands, but not the main Aspen resort.  A friend of mine from the dorms at college had a buddy going to CMC so we went out and stayed with him over spring break.  He advised us to not even bother with the main Aspen area saying it was overpriced, over crowded, and under challenging (this was back in 1983).  We did ski Snowmass one day on that trip in addition to Highlands though.  He tuned out to be a very good skier too, not just some hack that didn't really know the areas.  It wouldn't surprise me that Highlands is now as you say relative to Aspen, but it was local insights that lead me to believe it was the locals hunt back in the early 80s.

 

It's a really long story, but here are cliff notes.

 

  Back in the 70's, Highland's actually had the lion share of business in the valley.  But the owner, Whip, never put any money back into the hill. By the early 90's, Highlands was down to 80,000/skier days a year. It used to take four old chairs, well over an hour,  to get to the top.  Steeplechase wouldn't open till noon on a powder day. 

Most of the locals probably bailed by 86 when the ASC put in the gondola and you could get to the top of Aspen in about 15 minutes.

Whip hated the ASC and would never sell to them.  So in 93 he donated it to Harvard.  Harvard turned around and sold to Gerald Hines. He kept the cheap passes, developed the base village and gave the hill to ASC for 10% of ASC stock.

It was the best thing to ever happen to Highlands. ASC has put a lot of money into the hill and let Mac Smith push the boundaries well into the Highland Bowl, No Name and hopefully in the future, into Maroon.

 

Both are really good hills.   Aspen has better ski lines and Highlands has more gnarly terrain, but it's also a lot rockier. This year so far, Aspen has skied much, much better.

 

post #78 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

 

Have you even skied Aspen Mountain?  The whole,  "Highland's is the local's mountain"  was made up after Gerald Hines purchased Highlands and offered the Highlander pass super cheap, so they would let him build his base village.

Most people that live or work in town probably ski Aspen more, just because you can get a lot of runs in fast,  before/after work or during lunch?

 

 

 

I have skied Aspen Mountain.  I have also worked at the base of Aspen Mountain as well as the surrounding areas of Carbondale, Basalt, and Glenwood for the people that live in the area full time.  My comment was meant to say that the full time residents, not the 1% who see Aspen as a second vacation home, tend to spend their ski days at another mountain.  In my opinion, a great ski town is not made by people paying for parking and walking around a town to be seen. 

 

Taos is also on the list and is one of my favorite places to visit.  Taos Ski Valley is at least 10 miles from town, you never see people walking around ski boots, and there are more art galleries than ski shops.  Does Taos qualify to be on this list?  I think it does because it is much more of a pure ski town than Aspen/Park City.  
 

 

post #79 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by theelk View Post

 My comment was meant to say that the full time residents, not the 1% who see Aspen as a second vacation home, tend to spend their ski days at another mountain.



 

 

  Most of the skiers that I know,  that ski everyday, do so on Aspen Mountain?  But I am sure that a lot of people that live in Snowmass ski there,  along with a lot of the 1%ers? 

  Highland's is a great area, but I just don't see that many people out there, ever?

 

 

 

Taos is a nice town, I don't have any problem with it being on your list?

post #80 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post

I've only been to 5, but considering that I never skied outside of Michigan until I was 40, I'd say I'm on a roll and ready to experience the other 20!


 

I've skied seven, and I didn't ski anywhere until I was almost 40, and I think my first non-Michigan skiing experience was when I was 40.  (Pennsylvania doesn't count).

 

I figure I'll probably hit another half dozen on the list before I'm through.   Seriously doubt I'll do all 25.

 

 

 

 

 

post #81 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post

 Here's an off the wall reaction that I doubt anyone would agree with me on.   I'm slightly offended that none of the geologically challenged areas such as Boyne made it.  yes, I'm kidding :-P



Well, Boyne isn't really a town.  I know it's called "Boyne City", but the ski area is called "Boyne Mountain" and there's nothing approaching a city or a mountain to be found anywhere around those parts. 

 

 

OTOH, nearby Petoskey & Harbor Springs are great little ski towns.  I think the HS ski teams have more of a following than their football teams.

 

Anyway, to address your point, North Conway made the list so that's one...

 

 

 

post #82 of 136

Better late than never:

 

I've only skied 8 so far; Bozeman (Big Sky, Yellowstone Club), Crested Butte, Aspen (all 4 mountains), Taos, Park City (and Alta, Snowbird, Solitude), Truckee (Northstar, Rose), Banff (Sunshine, Lake Louise), Jackson (Jackson Hole, Grand Targhee).

 

Have to sign off now, got some ski towns to visit/ski. 

post #83 of 136

Been to 10 and skied/boarded 8.  Want to do the rest!!!!!

 

 

post #84 of 136

Put me down for a 7.

 

Jackson Hole still tops the list for me...though I have not been to Chamomix, a place I would very much like to ski, si.

post #85 of 136

Twelve

post #86 of 136
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walt View Post


 

I've skied seven, and I didn't ski anywhere until I was almost 40, and I think my first non-Michigan skiing experience was when I was 40.  (Pennsylvania doesn't count).

 

I figure I'll probably hit another half dozen on the list before I'm through.   Seriously doubt I'll do all 25.

 

 

 

 

 

The first time I skied outside of Michigan was at Stowe 3 months after my 40th birthday. 


 

 

post #87 of 136

Have to agree 100% with shreadhead on the locals skiing Aspen Mountain. Not sure what theelk is refering to. Been going to Aspen for many years and all the locals that I know who live there ski Aspen (Ajax), with occasional trips to Highlands when it is good. Aspen definitively deserves to be on the list.

post #88 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by Girdwoodguy View Post

Jeremy Evans wrote a nice little book entitled "In Search of Powder: A Story of America's Disappearing Ski Bum."

He put forward several points in talking about the demise of the ski town concept and the disappearance of its denizens.

1. Corporate ownership and the four season resort concept have led to "resorts" like Copper or Keystone which (while pleasant enough for vacationers) cannot be considered ski towns by any stretch of the imagination; and

2. The rise in real estate values (I know, I know, but they are still pretty high most places) that came with part timers and weekenders buying ski houses drove locals out of ski towns, so few people actually live in many places that were ski towns in the past. He cites South Lake Tahoe as an example, with streets full of empty houses on weekdays.

I think a town needs residents who actually live there to qualify as a ski town. It needs people who have chosen to live there and who accept the limitations that come with the place as a trade-off for the skiing. Otherwise, a place may be a nice resort but it is not really a ski town. Somewhere like Mountain Village near Telluride may be an awesome display of the 1%'s power and money, but it scarcely feels like a ski town.


This.
Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post

A real ski town needs a large population of real skiers.

I like the feeling when it snows all day and all the roads and sidewalks are snow covered and after skiing people get around the town on their skis.

and this.

There's 3 different varieties of ski towns.

1) What the above two quotes talk about.

2) What jet-setting "destination resort" fans love.

3) What everyone outside North America thinks of when they think of a ski town.

In the USA, most self-described skiers seek (2). They pretend to want (1) but actually most will complain about places like (1) because (1) usually isn't glitzy or modern enough for them and doesn't have enough "shopping" etc. But eventually some of these seekers get courageous and move to a (1) where they proceed to pour money into the place and turn it into a (2), lording their wealth over the locals, driving them out of the town, and generally being smug about the whole thing, while politely addressing those locals they're driving out. "Thanks for loading my kids onto chairs, teaching them to ski, cooking our burgers, now LEAVE!"
post #89 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post

The first time I skied outside of Michigan was at Stowe 3 months after my 40th birthday. 


 

 

That must be a misprint. We all know you haven't had that birthday yet. None of us have.
 

 

post #90 of 136
I have been to some of them, I think it is a mater of opinion, I go for the snow and terrain, what I like and some one else likes may not be the same thing, the bottom line for me is I go to ski, any thing else is just extra.
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