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SKI's 2016-2017 Rankings for Resorts in N. America

post #1 of 157
Thread Starter 

I have a subscription to SKI for one reason only, and that one reason showed up in my mailbox yesterday.  Marketing fluff or not, I do enjoy seeing their rankings.  This year's version sees quite a bit of movement from last year with a couple of almost shocking results (at least, in my subjective opinion):

 

  • Aspen Mountain at #2 behind only Whistler-Blackcomb;
  • Outside of Whistler at the top, no other western Canadian resort made the Top 30;
  • Weird that the write-up for Park City was almost apologetic in ranking it so high (I think it was 12), yet very little positive was said about it and went out of its way to say that "bigger is NOT better";
  • Taos did not make the Top 30;
  • Snowbird and Alta, though ranking high in everything related to skiing, both fell in the 20-30 range; and
  • Jackson Hole scored very high in terrain variety (which I thought was strange as I would only recommend JH for strong intermediates on up as there is virtually no decent terrain for beginners and lower intermediates).

 

What I especially like about SKI's rankings is they do provide a Top 10 in each of the criteria that they use in evaluating the various areas.  Here is where the helpful information is as it does give a reader the opportunity to see what places score high in the areas that you deem important (lifts, lodging, dining, challenge, snow, accessibility, etc.).

 

2016-2017 Western Top 30 (Last Year's Ranking)

  1. Whistler-Blackcomb (1)
  2. Aspen Mountain (13)
  3. Deer Valley (3)
  4. Vail (7)
  5. Jackson Hole (5)
  6. Beaver Creek (10)
  7. Steamboat (8)
  8. Telluride (4)
  9. Snowmass (6)
  10. Sun Valley (2)
  11. Whitefish (9)
  12. Winter Park (15)
  13. Park City (11)
  14. Aspen Highlands (18)
  15. Big Sky (21)
  16. Breckenridge (14)
  17. Crested Butte (28)
  18. Copper Mountain (16)
  19. Keystone (22)
  20. Snowbird (17)
  21. Solitude (30)
  22. Mammoth (24)
  23. Alta (29)
  24. Heavenly (--)
  25. Squaw Valley (26)
  26. Brighton (27)
  27. Northstar (--)
  28. Snowbasin (25)
  29. Grand Targhee (--)
  30. Mt. Bachelor (--)

 

Ranked last year, but not in this year's Top 30: Sunshine Village (12), Lake Louise (19), Taos (20)


Edited by Lofcaudio - 9/20/16 at 4:30pm
post #2 of 157

Ya, apparently skiing absolutely sucks in Canada.  I'm surprised they realize there's actually a world outside the USA.  Go figure. :ROTF

 

That's ok, I hear it's so busy in Western Canada that nobody goes there anymore.  ;)   Nothing to see there, the crowds are insane, the weather is too cold, the mountains are icy, the Canadians speak a funny language, and we have weird money.  Stay in the US.

 

 

More freshies for us Canuckians LOL.

post #3 of 157
Mine didn't show yet. Rural delivery.
post #4 of 157
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

Mine didn't show yet. Rural delivery.

 

Whitefish came in very high (11 maybe?).  I don't have the magazine with me right now and am working off my memory.  Did well in value and terrain variety.

post #5 of 157
I think we were 9 last year. Had hoped for more of a drop.
post #6 of 157
Yeah - it's awful up here. Awful skiing. Too cold. Skip western Canada all together. I mean, yes, absolutely go to Whistler. But there's nothing to see here in interior BC/Alberta... 😄

I have to say, I don't think I've ever seen anything but Whistler in those rankings. Has anyone else seen another Canadian resort?
post #7 of 157
I always have this split feeling. I want us to be rated highly, just from pride, but I don't want the notoriety which results in "other bodies on MY trail!"
post #8 of 157

They might as well call it what it is.   Top ten list of who spends the most on advertising with them...

post #9 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

I always have this split feeling. I want us to be rated highly, just from pride, but I don't want the notoriety which results in "other bodies on MY trail!"

 

Those people pay for infrastructure improvements as well though.  It's certainly a catch 22..

post #10 of 157
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by albertanskigirl View Post

Yeah - it's awful up here. Awful skiing. Too cold. Skip western Canada all together. I mean, yes, absolutely go to Whistler. But there's nothing to see here in interior BC/Alberta... 😄

I have to say, I don't think I've ever seen anything but Whistler in those rankings. Has anyone else seen another Canadian resort?

 

Both Lake Louise and Sunshine Village made the Top 20 last year, with Sunshine Village coming in at #12.  Odd that one year later they are nowhere to be found.

 

EDITED TO ADD: As you can see from the list above...Sibhusky was too fast for me.

post #11 of 157
That is so strange… Yes, perhaps advertising dollars come into play at the end.
post #12 of 157

Americans that ski in Canada overwhelmingly go to Whistler (expect those numbers to increase now that Vail is a WB owner) and to a much lesser extent some Americans ski Banff, and some Seattle skiers own real estate at and ski at Sun Peaks and that is about it.

 

So the rankings reflect US skier tastes to some a large extent and the greatest asset of skiing the B.C. interior, a lack of crowds, shall remain intact.

post #13 of 157
Quote:

What I especially like about SKI's rankings is they do provide a Top 10 in each of the criteria that they use in evaluating the various areas.  Here is where the helpful information is as it does give a reader the opportunity to see what places score high in the areas that you deem important (lifts, lodging, dining, challenge, snow, accessibility, etc.).

 

I love the follow up with the "Top Ski Towns" in the December issue using fun things like "most arrogant locals" or "friendliest locals" or "best place to spend Christmas". etc.    Typically, they don't match up.  I remember thinking last years ranking of Aspen was interesting.  It only ranks 13th as a resort but ranks 1st as a ski town.  I don't have last years issue so I can't remember if they were strictly referring to Ajax or Aspen/Snowmass as a whole?   I wondered if this confuses travelers and what do they care about most?  The actual resort or the town or some combination of both?

post #14 of 157
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike78 View Post
 

 

I love the follow up with the "Top Ski Towns" in the December issue using fun things like "most arrogant locals" or "friendliest locals" or "best place to spend Christmas". etc.    Typically, they don't match up.  I remember thinking last years ranking of Aspen was interesting.  It only ranks 13th as a resort but ranks 1st as a ski town.  I don't have last years issue so I can't remember if they were strictly referring to Ajax or Aspen/Snowmass as a whole?   I wondered if this confuses travelers and what do they care about most?  The actual resort or the town or some combination of both?

 

I agree that it can be confusing.  Aspen Mountain (a/k/a Ajax) placed 2nd overall in this year's rankings based upon strong scores in Aprés, Lodging, and Dining...none of which has anything to do with skiing, but everything to do with how much you are enjoying yourself when you are NOT actually skiing.  I interpret "top ski towns" to be even more removed from the skiing itself as they are grading the experience of being in a town where there just happens to be skiing nearby.  To me, it's just another category which can be used to grade a ski resort if having a robust town is important to where you want to spend a ski vacation.

post #15 of 157
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

Anyone got this year's full list to post?

 

If you don't get your copy in the mail today, I'll be happy to post the Top 30 later on this evening.

post #16 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lofcaudio View Post
 

I have a subscription to SKI for one reason only, and that one reason showed up in my mailbox yesterday.  Marketing fluff or not, I do enjoy seeing their rankings.  This year's version sees quite a bit of movement from last year with a couple of almost shocking results (at least, in my subjective opinion):

 

  • Aspen Mountain at #2 behind only Whistler-Blackcomb;
  • Snowbasin did not make the western Top 30;
  • Outside of Whistler at the top, no other western Canadian resort made the Top 30;
  • Weird that the write-up for Park City was almost apologetic in ranking it so high (I think it was 12), yet very little positive was said about it and went out of its way to say that "bigger is NOT better";
  • Taos did not make the Top 30;
  • Snowbird and Alta, though ranking high in everything related to skiing, both fell in the 20-30 range; and
  • Jackson Hole fell a tad in the rankings, but scored very high in terrain variety (which I thought was strange as I would only recommend JH for strong intermediates on up as there is virtually no decent terrain for beginners and lower intermediates).

 

What I especially like about SKI's rankings is they do provide a Top 10 in each of the criteria that they use in evaluating the various areas.  Here is where the helpful information is as it does give a reader the opportunity to see what places score high in the areas that you deem important (lifts, lodging, dining, challenge, snow, accessibility, etc.).


This list for Western ski resorts is based on "votes" from an online survey, correct?  Does that mean mainly using an elist of subscribers?  I get SKI because I go to the Warren Miller film and fill out the form.  Are there people who actually pay for SKI Magazine?

 

Since the category is "ski resort", does not surprise me that Snowbasin, Alta, and even Snowbird, don't rank that high.  Snowbasin doesn't even have any slope side lodging and none of the towns nearby can compete with Aspen or Park City (town not terrain).

 

Last season was a good one for snow for Taos.  But there was construction in town.  Now that the Blake hotel is open, wonder if that will make a difference.  Having just figured out where to stay for a Taos Ski Week, must say that there were far fewer options for a group of 5 compared to Aspen, or even Big Sky.  Plus TSV is 3 hours from the nearest major airport.

post #17 of 157
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

 

Last season was a good one for snow for Taos.  But there was construction in town.

 

Taos did get a ton of snow last year...BUT most of it fell in November, April, and May.  It was almost completely skunked from New Year's all the way to closing day.  Overall, the snow conditions weren't that good as there just weren't any powder days to be found when most people went skiing last season.  As for the construction, it was a mess.  I can completely see why Taos would not have received good scores based upon the experience there last year.  (I think I graded Sun Valley, Snowbasin, and Aspen Highlands last year in the SKI survey.)

post #18 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lofcaudio View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

 

Last season was a good one for snow for Taos.  But there was construction in town.

 

Taos did get a ton of snow last year...BUT most of it fell in November, April, and May.  It was almost completely skunked from New Year's all the way to closing day.  Overall, the snow conditions weren't that good as there just weren't any powder days to be found when most people went skiing last season.  As for the construction, it was a mess.  I can completely see why Taos would not have received good scores based upon the experience there last year.  (I think I graded Sun Valley, Snowbasin, and Aspen Highlands last year in the SKI survey.)


That brings up an interesting point, people who ski a lot can only grade their top 3.  So perhaps most of the input comes from people who only ski at one destination resort each season.  That's a very specific group.  People who only take one trip out west are likely to stay for at least 5 ski days, if not an entire week.

 

Would be interest to see a breakdown of the people who filled out the survey.  Do they travel with family & friends?  Do they stay slope side?  Do they drive or fly to the places they reviewed?  How many ski days do they average per season?

 

Sorry, the statistician in me is coming out.  Any survey that's based on self-selection doesn't make much sense unless the process for finding potential survey respondents is clear.  :rolleyes

post #19 of 157
I've voted online the last few years. All you need is the link, you don't need to be a subscriber. Assuming they strictly use the survey and don't tweak it, that would eliminate advertising in the magazine as having an impact.

And I don't remember being limited to three, or for that matter being limited to one vote.

Found the link, there were six possible resorts.

http://skimagsurvey.com/surveys/smrr1617/loader.php?s=smrr1617&e=emily.summers@yahoo.com
post #20 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

I've voted online the last few years. All you need is the link, you don't need to be a subscriber. Assuming they strictly use the survey and don't tweak it, that would eliminate advertising in the magazine as having an impact.

And I don't remember being limited to three, or for that matter being limited to one vote.

Found the link, there were six possible resorts.

http://skimagsurvey.com/surveys/smrr1617/loader.php?s=smrr1617&e=emily.summers@yahoo.com


Ah, now I remember.  I wasn't about to fill out all the details for more than 2-3 places.  Pretty sure I got an email and that's why I knew about the survey.

post #21 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post

 

Would be interest to see a breakdown of the people who filled out the survey.  Do they travel with family & friends?  Do they stay slope side?  Do they drive or fly to the places they reviewed?  How many ski days do they average per season?

 

 

^this.  It would be very interesting to see   :)     The survey also seems to be just as interested in your personal info.  If you don't mind filling this type of info out then Epic currently has a free Epic Pass giveaway.

post #22 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanoT View Post

Americans that ski in Canada overwhelmingly go to Whistler (expect those numbers to increase now that Vail is a WB owner) and to a much lesser extent some Americans ski Banff, and some Seattle skiers own real estate at and ski at Sun Peaks and that is about it.

So the rankings reflect US skier tastes to some a large extent and the greatest asset of skiing the B.C. interior, a lack of crowds, shall remain intact.

And that is why, as an American I advocate living as close to the Candian border as possible. Hmm....maybe move to Pt. Roberts? Sumas? Northport?
post #23 of 157
Rather than getting all upset about the flaws inherent in Ski Mag's data collection and ranking process, I celebrate the high ranking of resorts I would not frequent and the non-ranking of those I plan to visit.
post #24 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by DesiredUsername View Post

Rather than getting all upset about the flaws inherent in Ski Mag's data collection and ranking process, I celebrate the high ranking of resorts I would not frequent and the non-ranking of those I plan to visit.


Who's upset?  Not me.  I just would rather interpret the results based on knowing more about the respondents.

 

Agree that for some, the top 10 can be used as a way to decide what to avoid.  But never that simple.  Everyone's priorities are different.  Based on Snowmass being ranked highly, avoiding it would mean not understanding that going to Aspen means being able to ski Aspen Highlands, Ajax, and Buttermilk.  For a family, or a group like the 2016 Gathering, can be a very good place to go.  Alta is usually well out of the top 10.  But those who opt to stay in one of the lodges can have a pretty luxurious ski vacation.

 

If I'm looking for rankings based on data, ZRankings fits the bill.  There Whistler is #3, with JH and Snowbird in the top two spots.

post #25 of 157

Be great if you could post the East Coast ranking as well. Thanks.

post #26 of 157

When do their mid-west rankings come out?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

:ROTF 

post #27 of 157

Whistler sends me promotional emails to vote for them to top that list in Ski magazine.  I didn't see any emails from other resorts this past season asking me to vote. 

 

FYI this past season I visited Whistler, Breckenridge, Deer Valley, PCMR - they all have my email address.

post #28 of 157
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by naja View Post
 

Be great if you could post the East Coast ranking as well. Thanks.

 

I remember the top 3:

 

  1. Tremblant
  2. Stowe
  3. Whiteface

 

So though there were only two Canadian resorts which made the rankings, they took top honors in both the East and the West.

post #29 of 157
The survey results are obviously from a 'tourists' perspective I assume. I too received the survey from Whistler by email.
What you want in a 'home mountain' is vastly different from what most want as a destination skier.
I can see nothing really wrong with Whistler as number 1 - the perplexing part is for example Lake Louise not being in the top 30. And Alta at 29? What is this based on?
When holidaying as a skier what else do you want to do whilst on the mountain aside from ski (from lift open to close), have a quick lunch and then have drinks at the end of the day? The amount of spas, overpriced fashion shops etc don't make one difference to the experience. Or maybe I'm not the typical tourist?
I do love to have a run to myself while skiing but a upbeat 'crowd' at the pub for Apres creates a great atmosphere which is part of the ski holiday experience I love.
Can't wait to get to Aspen Snowmass this year to check out what is apparently 'Whister without the crowds'.
post #30 of 157

I have no idea how anyone could call Aspen "Whistler without the crowds". Both are great places. But the differences in snow and terrain are dramatic. When I think Whistler, I think of fresh deep maritime snow and skiing off piste in craggy coastal mountains (with evergreen forests). Often with the sun obscured by clouds. When I think Aspen, I think blue sky and groomers - with a very different rock and vegetation feel. At Whistler, I envision a break eating waffles while escaping the weather. At Aspen, it is more apres in the sun. YMMV....

 

The list did indeed strike me as being as much or more about lodging and amenities than skiing. On a quick read, I saw no mention of WA Cascade areas. That despite the skiing here in the Cascades crushing many of the destination resorts listed - IMO anyway.

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