So, I was admiring Ski Magazine’s top 30 resorts of 2008-2009, as I do every year, and while I actually have few complaints with the results I thought why not come up with my own from my personal experience. I mean, their list is based solely on reader votes and I’m a reader but why not make my vote gospel? This is my blog and around here I’m CEO, Commander in Chief, Czar, Premier and Chancellor and if you don’t like it then you can . . . well . . . leave a comment because in the Republic of The Travel Companion blog we certainly have freedom of speech and encourage dissent.
I understand that there is a problem however. You may ask “Brian, how are you going to rank the top ski destinations when certainly you have only been to a handful of the hundreds on the continent?” I know it’s not perfect and while I will be able to comment on places I’ve been I will do some scientific expert speculation on those that I haven’t been. Remember, around here I’m all knowing. Kinda like Kim Jong Il shooting a modest 18 on his first ever round of golf, certainly at one of North Korea’s world class golf courses. But of course that’s where objectors can so dutifully challenge my misjudgments.
We first must establish what constitutes a top ski destination. This is where I will take issue with Ski Magazine. Evidently, to them, ease of accessibility, fine dining and ratio of on-slope hosts to skiers decides best resorts. I vigorously cry foul! It is true that they rank “resorts” and I’m addressing “destinations” and I may not technically be able to complain. But what makes a true skiing experience great? Close proximity to an airport that hosts several airline hubs makes for great headache-free vacations but lends nothing to the skiing experience itself. Skiing is about adventure, exploration and nature, man vs wilderness and the elements. It’s about the need to conquer something unfathomably larger than we are, not spas and Prada. That is why there will be no east coast destinations on my list. Americans have an undying desire to connect to the west and to expand into the unknown.
I will be developing my list based on 4 categorical areas. There will be 4 posts, one for each category, followed by a with final conclusions. The 4 categories are described as follows:
Location and setting – This covers everything from global location down to local geography and natural features such as wildlife, flora and fauna. The very important and vain question of scenery falls in this category.
Terrain – This addresses all aspects of the skiable mountain including difficulty, variety, vertical feet, quality and maintenance and grooming.
Authenticity – This addresses, what I call, the Disney Factor. Has this ski location developed naturally and remained true to it’s original demographic or has it metastasized with Applebee’s and urban sprawl.
Local charm – This follows closely after Authenticity. Who calls the destination home? Cowboys or seasonal staff from the nearest metropolis.
As a disclaimer I reserve the right to change my mind at any time for any reason.