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Great Ski Area Odd Couples and Rivalries

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

The "Stowe vs. Sugarbush" thread got me thinking about the trash talk that many of us like to indulge in when discussing our favorite areas with skiing friends. There are lots of pairs of ski areas that are seen by their regulars as complementary, fiercely competitive, or sometimes both. Typically these will be areas that are geographically close, and therefore represent more or less equal effort to get to, leaving the decision to the pure merits of the mountain. For example, when I was a kid growing up in suburban NYC, there was a local Catamount faction and a Butternut faction. My dad and I were in the Butternut camp. We argued that Butternut was quieter, prettier, snowier, less crowded, had more consistent pitch, a better lodge, and a long list of other winning characteristics. God knows what those hopeless losers over at Catamount thought was worthwhile about their area. Okay, maybe the embroidered patch was a little more interesting.

 

Sugarbush and Mad River is a great example of a complementary "odd couple" pairing. I'd argue the same for Sugarloaf and Saddleback (not to say that I'm above a heated argument on the chair about why my pick is better). :D  

 

Alta and Snowbird. Jackson and Targhee. Aspen and Highlands. You get the idea. What are your favorite odd couples and rivalries?

post #2 of 28

Arapahoe Basin & Loveland aren't an odd couple, but they do have a friendly rivalry due to the "race to open" they have each fall.  The fact that they are similar (neither has lodging, both are basically independent) and close to each other (you can see one from the other along the Continental Divide) makes it even more fun.  I don't think people really argue about which is better, though.  I love 'em both.

post #3 of 28

used to be Blackcomb or Whistler but that's now easily resolved.

currently have a buddy living in Revelstoke who I like showing why Kicking Horse is better.

post #4 of 28

Gore and Whiteface.

 

They are tied together under NY State ownership and are about 80 minutes apart. They couldn't be more different and they do share a pass.

 

Whiteface has the monster vertical(about 3200 feet) and is a pretty narrow mountain. There are some great consistently steep black diamond runs and the incredible Slides (a true lift served backcountry area that is rarely open). It is windy, cold, exposed, and yes - icy. You can see the base lodge from the top of the top lift. WF lacks green and low blue trails. The town of Lake Placid is a winter wonderland with tons of winter activities, rest/bars, and hotels/lodges.

 

Gore  has almost a 4 mile spread from one end to the other with a decent vert of 2537ft and is loaded with a wide variety of blue cruisers. There are 7 different pods sometimes connected by some really annoying flat connector trails. Every pod has great on the map glade skiing including some of the longest in the East off a HSQ. There are always places to find good snow and Gore recently connected to the original North Creek Ski Bowl that first opened in the 1930s and has been closed since the late 1970s. Gore is in the somewhat sleepy village of North Creek.

 

There are some fun discussions on The NY Ski Blog between the 2 factions.

 

If you have some time here is a good back and forth from 2012:

http://forum.nyskiblog.com/Gore-Vs-Whiteface-Battle-Royale-Edition-td4020347.html

post #5 of 28

Killington & Pico come to mind for me. Big Boulder and Jack Frost in the Poconos is another. 

post #6 of 28

Wintergreen and Massanutten in northern VA are rivals.  Very few people care since most of the non-locals are as interested in the non-skiing aspects of the resorts as the slopes.  Better skiers and boarders from the closest metropolitan areas like DC or Richmond tend to drive to WV or PA.

 

Sugar and Beech in NC are within 30 minutes drive, depending on the road conditions on the Beech Mtn road.  Rivals with very different business plans.  Definitely customers who argue intensely that one is better than the other.

post #7 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by qcanoe View Post
 

The "Stowe vs. Sugarbush" thread got me thinking about the trash talk that many of us like to indulge in when discussing our favorite areas with skiing friends. There are lots of pairs of ski areas that are seen by their regulars as complementary, fiercely competitive, or sometimes both. Typically these will be areas that are geographically close, and therefore represent more or less equal effort to get to, leaving the decision to the pure merits of the mountain. For example, when I was a kid growing up in suburban NYC, there was a local Catamount faction and a Butternut faction. My dad and I were in the Butternut camp. We argued that Butternut was quieter, prettier, snowier, less crowded, had more consistent pitch, a better lodge, and a long list of other winning characteristics. God knows what those hopeless losers over at Catamount thought was worthwhile about their area. Okay, maybe the embroidered patch was a little more interesting.

 

Sugarbush and Mad River is a great example of a complementary "odd couple" pairing. I'd argue the same for Sugarloaf and Saddleback (not to say that I'm above a heated argument on the chair about why my pick is better). :D  

 

Alta and Snowbird. Jackson and Targhee. Aspen and Highlands. You get the idea. What are your favorite odd couples and rivalries?

 

Dude, Catamount is way better than Butternut.  Why Butternut is flatter than a pancake.  No character.  No Pitch.  And finally, once and for all, NO WAY Butternut is better than Catamount!

post #8 of 28
When I lived in CT back in 1978, we preferred Butternut. But I can't remember why... :-[
post #9 of 28
Snowbasin and Powder mt. Both easily accessible from Ogden or from Eden for that matter where I stayed last Xmas. Total opposite ends of the spectrum as far as lifts, lodges and terrain. Powder Mt local referred to "that other place" that was "all corporate, OK if you want to crap in a brass toilet."
post #10 of 28

Aspen and Vail have had a very interesting relationship over the years.  In the 60's and 70's they really loved not loving each other.  

post #11 of 28

Sugarloaf and Sunday River.  Sugarloaf at one point had a sign on a lift tower saying "If you were at Sunday River, this would be the top".

 

You used to be able to ski between Stowe and Smuggler's Notch and get a free ride on the other one's chairlifts, but they don't allow that anymore.

post #12 of 28

Did no one mention Mad River Glen and Sugarbush (once known as Mascara Mtn)?  Polar opposites, and you could/can ski from MRG to Sugarbush North, once known as Glen Ellen. 

Also, once upon a time Snowbird and Alta would have qualified here. 

And finally, my own humble home hill is just over the pass from its polar opposite too, St. Moritz. 

post #13 of 28

Brighton and Solitude seem more like partners than rivals given the new BCC joint pass and the fact the connecting trail has been around for a while.  Reminds me of Snowbasin vs PowMow although not to the same extreme since both Brighton and Solitude cater more to locals than travelers.

post #14 of 28

Forgot a favorite since my first trip to MT (besides Alta/Snowbird) . . . Big Sky and Bridger.  As a traveler, I will always spend a few days at Bridger when going to Big Sky.  Coming from the east, Bridger can be a destination in itself for a budget trip staying in a motel in Bozeman 20 min away.  Especially since my favorite L3 instructor works there.  Big Sky is a destination resort set up very well by Boyne.  Would not run out of skiing fun staying a week or more, but hits the wallet hard without a season pass.  Maybe after I'm old enough for the senior discount.

 

I guess Big Sky and Moonlight was a partner pairing, but once under the same ownership . . . ?

post #15 of 28

Used to be that Crystal Mountain vs. Stevens Pass was a rivalry, but the two places have gone slightly different directions and I don't hear that like I used to.

post #16 of 28
Crystal and Baker usually try to open first for the season in WA state. Stevens made great efforts to be the first area to open with daily lift service last year. Other than that I don't get the sense of any rivalry.
post #17 of 28

Timberline and Meadows...

post #18 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

When I lived in CT back in 1978, we preferred Butternut. But I can't remember why... :-[

 

It was closer.

:)

post #19 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by x10003q View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

When I lived in CT back in 1978, we preferred Butternut. But I can't remember why... :-[

It was closer.
smile.gif
No, we passed Catamount on the way.
post #20 of 28

Timberline and Canaan Valley WV. CV is state owned, the concessionaire ran it into the ground as far as mountain operations. No snow people won't go. Timberline is privately owned, the owners are milking the place but the mountain operations are good for our region. These areas are literally 8 minutes apart, a vibrant Canaan Valley would be a great compliment to Timberline.

 

An old friend of mine used to say

 

"Alta is for skiers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

who don't have a Snowbird pass"

 

 

 

post #21 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stranger View Post
 

Aspen and Vail have had a very interesting relationship over the years.  In the 60's and 70's they really loved not loving each other.  

Back in the 80s I took several trips to Colorado from college.  Whenever I was skiing with some local CMC peeps they talked trash about all the Aspen and Vail resorts except Highlands, which they LOVED.  A room mate of a friend had a good friend going to CMC and that's how I got connected with them.  The CMC dude was a GREAT skier which shocked me because he was originally from Hawaii.  Anyway, I had to agree that of all the places we hit, Highlands was and still is my favorite for actual skiing.  I also liked Brek, but it wasn't crowded when I skied there..

post #22 of 28

Boyne Highlands and it's neighbor across the street, Nubs Nob, have that going on.  The Boyne hill, like it's older brother Boyne Mountain an hour to the south, naturally caters to wealthy families looking for the 'big, catch-all resort' vibe.  I've always been a Nubs guy - less snooty, less crowded, and better terrain - but the truth is, there's plenty of money floating around there too, it's just less obvious.

 

Also, Mt. Bohemia up in Copper Harbor has always rolled with a "we're the only real skier's mountain for 600 miles around" marketing strategy that pits them against every other molehill in-between Upstate NY and the Front Range.  Mostly expert terrain, two double chairs, a small bar/grill, and a few huts where you can rent a bunk - that's it.

post #23 of 28
Quote:
Also, once upon a time Snowbird and Alta would have qualified here. 

I'm sure they still do, though a few of the differences have  narrowed, notably the arrival of high speed lifts at Alta.  As a Snowbird timeshare owner I've been in numerous :snowfight  with the Altaphiles on First Tracks over the years.  My strong bias for Snowbird in the 1980's and 1990's was due to:

 

1) Most of my skiing at both areas being in March with a disproportionate number of very warm, springy days, when I still believe Snowbird is preferred, though the aforementioned Altaphiles vociferously disagree.

2) Excessive liftlines at Alta with the slow lifts, including my worst-ever liftline experience during Christmas Week 1986-87.

 

My views have moderated.  In recent years Alta seems less busy than Snowbird.  There are situations such as early season and the moderate snowfall powder days where I now believe Alta is clearly preferred.  If I lived in SLC for a season I would probably ski about 2 days at Snowbird for every one at Alta, while a decade ago I would have answered that question "3 or 4 to 1".  In a way it's a ridiculous discussion because IMHO both are among the top 1% of the worlds' skiing.

post #24 of 28

An odd pairing is The Summit at Snoqualmie (West, Central, East) and Alpental.  They're right next to each other and as different as night and day.  It's like two different ski universes.

post #25 of 28

There was Jiminy vs Brodie and Jiminy won that one

 

Windham vs Hunter ( I don't see why anyone would ever ski at Hunter but thousands do every day)

 

Catamount vs Butternut.  I say keep driving (but I prefer Butternut)

 

Gore vs Whiteface (I'm a Gore Guy, its just better skiing)

 

Stratton vs Snow vs Okemo  Pretty identical ski experience at each, I kinda like them all but I'm pretty timid these days...

post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by TeddyO View Post
 

 

Windham vs Hunter ( I don't see why anyone would ever ski at Hunter but thousands do every day)

 

Hunter won that competition long ago! Much better variety of terrain by far at Hunter. Windham used to be less crowded, not any more. So the only reason to go to Windham is no more.

 

 

Stratton vs Snow vs Okemo  Pretty identical ski experience at each, I kinda like them all but I'm pretty timid these days...

 

I don't see Mt being in the comparison, much better terrain choices than the other two!

 

I used to hear people comparing Stratton against Mount Snow but not lately. Stratton had gone downhill in its "glitz" factor (grooming, snow making, lodging etc) Now upstaged by Okemo. I don't see much to recommend it any more. 

 

Though I'm not sure Stratton and Okemo are ever mentioned in the same breath. Seems each has its loyal following and they're just not the arguing type. 

 

Now thenew odd couple of Catskill is actually Plattekill vs Bellearye.

 

They're quite opposite of each other. Belleayre has nice woods and bumps but hideously short verticle, better snow making but a lot more skier traffic to scrape up the surface. Platty has long vert, more natural snow and low skier traffic, so the surface is more... natural! (including rocks and grass too)

post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune View Post
 

An odd pairing is The Summit at Snoqualmie (West, Central, East) and Alpental.  They're right next to each other and as different as night and day.  It's like two different ski universes.

Summit and Alpental might as well be in different mountain ranges.  Alpental has some amazing stuff.

post #28 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stranger View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune View Post
 

An odd pairing is The Summit at Snoqualmie (West, Central, East) and Alpental.  They're right next to each other and as different as night and day.  It's like two different ski universes.

Summit and Alpental might as well be in different mountain ranges.  Alpental has some amazing stuff.


Not to hijack, but a little background about this.  When I was in college I took a Pacific Northwest geography course and during a lecture the professor mentioned that the geology north of Snoqualmie Pass (where Alpental is) is completely different than that south of the Pass (Summit areas).  South there are lower, gentler mountains and ridges with the exceptions of volcanoes like Rainier, Adams, etc.  North, because of a completely different geologic history, the mountains are more "Alp-like" with tall rocky crags and glaciers on many of the mountains as well as the volcanoes (Glacier Peak and Baker).  Go to the top of Alpental and look out at the mountain range and you can easily see this.  Snoqualmie Pass is the literal dividing line.

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