I am likely to be flying from Toronto to somewhere near snow, most likely SFO, at the end of this month and I will have a lot of kit including 2 pairs of skis in a large (~190cm) double bag. Looking at prices it looks like there is not much in it between the major US carriers (AA, United, US air) and Air Canada is more expensive but direct. In europe there are well known and significant differences between the different airlines with respect to how they handle skis and checked lugage, but I have no knowledge of what US carriers are like. Do you have any thoughts on this?
Also, I have heard it is worth avoiding connecting through Chicago O'Hare. Is it really that bad?