Originally Posted by fisch2332
That's an excellent point. It is important to take any "Best of" list with a grain of salt and get feedback from experienced skiers (I wouldn't be surprised if some of the "Best of" lists were sponsored by certain resorts). Part of the reason I like the Zrankings is because of their fairly innovative and analytical approach to rating snow, which is probably their biggest weighted factor in their overall rating. They also rate things like travel time from airport to slopes, and some other cool stats that you don't find on other lists (number of runs, vertical, terrain difficulty breakdown, pecentage of days with 6+ inches of snow, percentage of months with 90+ inches of snow, etc) so they are relatively transparent.
That being said, it still shouldn't be the only source for choosing a skiing destination and most "Best of" lists that don't explain their rankings shouldn't be looked at.
I tend to like Zrankings as well, just because it adds a lot of skiing related objectivity to things. Some metrics I disagree with, number of runs being one- on the IMO "good" mountains, there is a lot of off piste stuff where labels are arbitrary (some will label 800 acres as one run, other areas will have 10 different labeled lines in a 30 acre bowl, each one a "run").
Vertical is a stat that I think gets overused. Most lifts service under about 1800 vertical feet. Few mountains have a consistent fall line from top to bottom, and many have flats at the bottom and progressively steeper terrain. Example- Snowmass. 4000 Vertical foot drop- but ~2500 feet of that is very mellow, and the good stuff (which is really good) caps the mountain with about 1500 vertical feet of the goods. When that 4000 vert runs through many varied terrain zones (as it usually does) how many people are skiing top to bottom? How many people even want to?
The net result is plenty of 1500 vert ski areas are pretty equivalent to 4000 vert ski areas because at most of the big vert resorts the figure only matters for bragging rights. The few that offer biog vert and top to bottom challenge (looking at you, Jackson Hole) deserve special note, and maybe places like Sun Valley with big vertical of consistent fall line cruisers deserve it too, but most places it is a deceiving number. But, ski areas have recognized that big vertical drive skier visits, so it gets flogged.