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We’ve all heard the reports: Squaw and Mammoth have announced they’ll be open through Independence Day, Breckenridge through Memorial Day. With the record snowfalls in the west, it wouldn’t be surprising if more were to follow suit.

Buy Lift Tickets for Spring Skiing

Yes, it’s been an amazing snow year. But for some of us, it’s time to move on. With warmer temps come other outdoor pursuits: kayaking, swimming biking, hiking . . . all the things we love to do when we’re not spending our time on the slopes.

But before you stow your gear for the summer, there are a number of things you need to do to make sure it’s all in the best possible shape when next season rolls around. This only makes sense: You put a lot of thought and effort into picking out the skis, boots, and outerwear that are just right for you. Besides, ski gear is expensive. If you don’t handle it right, you might end up spending more money in repair and replacement costs next season. And no one wants that.

So here are the proper steps you should follow when you put your ski gear away. It may be a little bit of work, but it’s worth it.

Skis

• Inspect your skis for damage. See if there are any core shots in the base or dings in the edges. Now would be a good time to handle any repairs, so you don’t have to later on.

• Clean off the bases and top sheets. This is particularly important if you’ve been skiing in dirty spring conditions. You can do this by spraying them with a garden hose outdoors. Once they’re thoroughly doused, rub them dry with a clean cloth and let them air dry.

• Coat the bases with wax to protect them from air and moisture. Moisture can lead to rust, and exposure to air can dry out the bases. Your favorite ski shop can do this for you. Or if you decide to do this yourself, use at least twice as much wax as you do when you normally wax your skis. Don’t scrape it off. The idea is to leave it there all summer.

• Put a protectant on the edges to keep them from rusting. A dab of oil, vaseline, or even WD-40 on a rag (don’t spray it on) can do the trick.

• Some people say you should turn down the DIN on your bindings to ease the tension on the springs. Others say it doesn’t matter. I’ve never turned mine down and haven’t had a problem yet. So it’s up to you. If you do adjust them, however, don’t forget to set them back before heading out next season.

• Secure your skis with a strap base to base and store them in a cool, dry environment, away from sunlight. This means keeping them off a concrete floor, which can hold moisture and cause the edges to rust.

Boots

• Wash the shells (inside & out) with hot water and a mild detergent such as dish liquid.

• Remove the liners and make sure they’re completely dry.

• Remember, plastic has a memory, so buckle your boots loosely so they retain their shape.

• Place them in a clean, dry boot bag and store them in a cool, dry place.

Outerwear

• Go through the pockets just to make sure you remove that half eaten PB&J. You might find some forgotten treasure. I usually stumble across a few bucks here and there, a nice start to next year’s ski fund.

• Wash your shells. Some people believe washing will damage their outerwear. This couldn’t be further from the truth. You get more damage from a build-up of grime, body oil, sweat, dirt, and all the other stuff that accumulates through use. No matter what, the DWR (Durable Water Repellency) is going to wear off over time; it depends more on environmental factors than laundering. In fact, not washing regularly will cause something called “masking,” which keeps the finish from performing properly.

Washing your shell requires cleaning it and then retreating the surface. Start by checking the manufacturer’s tag for any special instructions. To get your garment really clean, pretreat any grimy areas, wash it with a regular liquid detergent, and then rinse it three times before using G-wash or Tech-Wash. G-Wash and Tech Wash are vehicles for getting the DWR to adhere to your item, more than an actual cleaning product. This is why you need to wash, rinse, and use the G-Wash or Tech Wash before applying the DWR, according to directions.

Declump your down when you dry, otherwise you’ll end up with a garment that has lots of insulation in one spot and none in another. Use an extremely low or air setting on your drier, and toss in a few tennis balls to break up the clumps. Some manual declumping may also be required.

As the saying goes take care of your gear, and it’ll take care of you. Believe it – it’s true.

The post Getting Your Gear Ready for the Off-Season appeared first on Liftopia Blog.

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For many, the start of spring brings to mind thoughts of great mornings on the slopes enjoying the spring corn snow, then long, lazy afternoons enjoying the sunshine with a cool beverage.

But for others it also means that annual nightmare – the end of the ski season – with most ski areas in North America shutting up shop in the first half of April.

But fear not, some ski areas will stay open later in to spring, indeed some will remain open through to summer, and with the deep bases built up this winter the 2019 spring skiing season is looking particularly good.  Here are 10 of the best bets in A-Z order.

Arapahoe Basin, Colorado PHOTO CREDIT: Arapahoe Basin

Other than a few glacier ski areas in Europe which open year-round, and some years Timberline with its permanent snowfield (see below), A-Basin has one of the longest ski seasons in the world, usually opening in October (their current season started on October 19th last year) then staying open right through to June and sometimes in to July. They don’t give a closing date and pretty well stay open so long as conditions permit.

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Banff, Canada

Alberta has three ski areas usually open in to May – Marmot Basin up near Jasper and the twin Banff ski areas of Lake Louise and Sunshine. The former two usually close around the first weekend of May but Sunshine stays open to the end of the month, staging its world-famous pond skimming event, the Slush Cup, the world’s oldest, back for its 91st staging this year on May 20th.

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Beartooth Basin, Wyoming – Open in June and Early July, 2019

Located 23 miles southwest of Red Lodge Montana at the Twin Lakes Headwall on the Beartooth Pass, this summer-only basic ski area (formerly The Red Lodge International Ski and Snowboard Camp) is one of North America’s oldest alpine ski training area set up by some great names in the skiing world back in the 1960s. Opening dates are uncertain until nearer to the time due to snow conditions and their reliance on the Highway being cleared and opened.

Breckenridge, Colorado – Open to May 27th, 2019

A new entry in our list of late opening ski areas (or perhaps that should be a re-entry as back in the 1980s and 90s, Breckenridge used to stay open later in to Spring) owners Vail Resorts recently announced that Breckenridge would be staying open to the Memorial Day holiday weekend at the end of May this year. Better still they say it’s a long-term plan for the years to come too.

Killington, Vermont

Killington is usually one of the first to open in the East each winter (it has been open since October 19th last year this season) and then endeavours to stay open to the very end of May and tries to make it in to June.  Last year it was forced to call it a day on May 26th by rapidly warming temperatures but in 2017 it made it through to June 1st. Fingers crossed for 2019.

Mammoth Mountain, California – At Least July 4th, 2019 PHOTO CREDIT: Mammoth Mountain

With more than 40 feet of snowfall this winter so far including its snowiest February in history, Mammoth currently has the deepest base in North America at around 19 feet and has confidently projected opening to at least July 4th this year.  It has stayed open in to August in the recent past.

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Mt Bachelor, Oregon – to May 26th, 2019

It’s looking like a good year for spring skiing in 2019 at Mt. Bachelor with the snow lying 8 feet deep at the bottom of the mountain and 10 feet at the top for the start of spring. The resort has already stated it expects to stay open for another three months, as normal to the end of May.

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, California – to July 7th, 2019
Tahoe's Longest Spring Skiing Season. Open Until July 7th - YouTube

There are good reasons for Squaw Valley to be marketed as the ‘Spring Skiing Capital of America’ – it stays open to the end of May most years, into June some years and as recently as 2017 stayed open to July 15th. A special high-value Spring skiing season pass is sold and the famous High Camp outdoor deck with giant hot tub opens up to add to the party mood. Closing day is July 7th, 2019.

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Timberline, Oregon – September 2nd, 2019

Timberline’s summer ski slopes and terrain park are world famous and offer the longest ski season in North America, thanks to the permanent snowfield.  Exactly how long one season lasts and when the next one begins depends on the weather conditions through the year. Currently the snow is lying deep from fresh falls this winter so it’s looking good for this spring and summer. If it’s any guide the resort’s regular season pass is valid up to Memorial Day weekend at the end of May but a summer ski pass is then good through to Labor Day weekend at the start of September. The area then usually closes for a few weeks before re-opening for the following season.

Whistler, Canada – to July 14th, 2019

Whistler Blackcomb’s glacier skiing and boarding gives it the longest ski season in Canada. The slopes will stay open right through to May 27th this year then re-open for glacier skiing and boarding on Blackcomb a little over a week later from June 8th to July 14th.

The post Where To Ski During Spring 2019 appeared first on Liftopia Blog.

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Spring skiing offers its own glorious vibe with more comfortable temperatures, soft snow (after the sun has a chance to warm it up at least), and often a fun party atmosphere (see “Mountain Festivals to Attend This Spring.”). For advice on how to best take advantage of the spring conditions, check out “5 Spring Skiing Tips You’ll Thank Us For Later.” For ideas on where to try out those tips, this list of resorts highlights some of the most renowned spots for late-season skiing and boarding.

1. Arapahoe Basin

With a base elevation of 10,780 feet on the Continental Divide in Colorado, Arapahoe Basin  benefits from its lofty location for excellent snow preservation often into June. For spring-breakers thinking of a trip to the beach instead of the mountains, A-Basin does at least in name have “The Beach”— a slopeside parking area famous for tailgate grilling and partying during the spring.

Spring Skiing and Beach Parties at Arapahoe Basin - YouTube

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2. Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows

If Arapahoe Basin is party central for Colorado spring skiing, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows is its California equivalent. The Tahoe-area resorts have even trademarked the “Spring Skiing Capital” moniker. With record-breaking snowfall in February, Squaw Valley has already announced plans to stay open on summer weekends until July 7. Alpine Meadows has plans to operate into May.

Complete with a hot tub at 8,200 feet, Squaw Valley’s High Camp is the “capital” of the party scene there. The insiders at Squaw Valley were kind enough to offer a suggested schedule for the day to time the best snow on the various aspects at the resort. Neighboring Alpine Meadows shared a similar schedule for the day for the smart strategy to hit the best snow there.

PHOTO CREDIT: Squaw Valley / Matt Palmer
Tahoe's Longest Spring Skiing Season. Open Until July 7th - YouTube

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3. Mammoth Mountain

A few hours south of Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, Mammoth Mountain typically stays open at least through Memorial Day weekend. Enjoying the same sort of amazing snow year as the Tahoe resorts, Mammoth has already extended its season through July 4. With the highest summit elevation among California ski resorts at 11,053 feet and lots of north-facing terrain, the snow at Mammoth preserves particularly well in the late-season.

Always a Good Time at Mammoth Mountain (Don’t Forget the Sunscreen)

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4. Snowbird

Located in Little Cottonwood Canyon just outside Salt Lake City, Snowbird usually stays open well after the lifts at other Utah resorts have stopped spinning. Many of Snowbird’s legendary steeps face north, so the snow stays longer. Of course, the fact that Snowbird averages about 500 inches of snow a season also helps the supply last typically until Memorial Day.

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5. Mt. Bachelor

Featuring 360-degrees of skiing on a dormant volcano overlooking Bend, Oregon, Mt. Bachelor can provide an unusual spring skiing experience. Given that the mountain is basically one huge peak sticking out of the high desert, the temperature change can be particularly striking. Along  the highway from the mountain back down to Bend, it’s common to see people playing an afternoon round of golf.

6. Killington

Killington embraces spring skiing perhaps more than any other ski area in the East. While the Vermont resort can’t match the elevations in the West, it does have a world-class snowmaking system that spends the winter building an impressive base and stockpiling snow. The crews create the “Superstar glacier”- a white ribbon of snow on the Superstar trail that provides bump skiing usually into May.

7. Whistler/Blackcomb

Located in British Columbia, Whistler/Blackcomb has real glaciers, so not surprisingly the huge resort has lots of terrain open late in the spring and beyond. Held April 10-14 this year, the World Ski and Snowboard Festival in Whistler claims to be North America’s largest festival of snow sports, music, arts and mountain culture.

8. Lake Louise/Banff Sunshine

At a more northern latitude than Whistler, the Canadian resorts of Lake Louise and Banff Sunshine provide particularly long days of spring sunshine (quite fitting considering the latter resort’s name). The long days translate into full days of spring skiing followed by hours of apres-ski on an outdoor patio.

Now that you know where to go to get turns in this spring, we’ve got some tips that will help make the most out of the rest of this season —

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5 Spring Skiing Tips You’ll Thank Us For Later 1. Follow the Sun

Spring’s higher temperatures and sun angle create a freeze-thaw cycle that affects how you ski the mountain. The snow typically refreezes each night, so going off the groomers first thing in the morning can be an unpleasant experience. While warming up yourself on the groomers, look for the slopes with an eastern exposure that are warming up in the morning sun. Those runs will soften up first.

After a few hours, the softer snow turns to corn, the holy grail of spring skiing. Corn snow is sometimes called “hero snow,” because it is really forgiving and easy to ski. Corn snow turns to wetter slush after a few more hours, so the strategy is to move across the mountain staying on the trails that are in that precious time window of corn.

2. Use Warm-Temperature Wax

When the snow surface gets too wet in the direct sun, it can get sticky. The effect is especially evident on a catwalk with sunny and shady spots. Skis or a snowboard will glide easily over the shaded stretch then grab on the wet snow in the sun. A wax rated for warm temperatures can reduce that water suction effect.

3. Still Pack a Winter Jacket

Despite all this discussion of warm temperatures, plenty of storm days do happen in March and April. At Alta Ski Area in Utah for example, March is the ski season’s snowiest month with a monthly average of about 100 inches. Even April receives an average of 80 inches. Base depths can be the deepest of the season during the spring.

4. Find the Party

Ski resorts love to throw parties in the spring. Virtually every major ski area has some sort of concert, pond skim or festival to wrap up the season.

At Squaw Valley in California and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado in particular, the party vibe is a famous daily tradition. Both resorts stay open into May, June or even July, depending on the year. Squaw Valley has its mid-mountain High Camp for outdoor pool and hot tub frolicking. A-Basin has “The Beach,” an area next to the base parking lot for tailgate barbecues.

5. Find the Deals

The beauty of skiing or boarding in April or later is that the masses do not realize that the ski season is not over. The industry’s little secret is that many resorts close for the season due to a lack of skiers, not a lack of snow. As a result, everything from hotels to lift tickets can be less expensive in the late spring. Not to put in a blatant plug, but for evidence, just compare the March and April prices here on Liftopia for almost any resort.

The post 8 Top Resort Destinations for Spring Skiing appeared first on Liftopia Blog.

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If you are a skier or boarder, any day and every day on the hill is a good day. What’s not so fun is bad ski etiquette and forgetting the “golden rules” of skiing. It’s mostly common sense mixed with respect for others.

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Terrible Ski Etiquette Can Ruin a Great Day

As a ski patroller, I see it all. Here’s a list of things not to do this ski season:

Forget Lift Etiquette

Cutting in line or holding up the queue because you want to avoid sharing a chair with someone will result in scornful looks or worse. Don’t stand on the skis and snowboards of others in the line. If there’s a wait for the quad chair, get in 4s. The line moves quicker, and you get up the lift quicker. If you’ve missed your friend, wait off to the side or at the top of the lift.

Wave Your Poles Around

Just don’t do it. Keep your poles to yourself on the slope and in the lift line. There’s nothing fun about getting whacked, poked or your equipment scratched by the end of a ski pole in the lift line.

Ski or Snowboard Drunk (or High)

Wait until après ski for the party favors. Skiing after drinking can be dangerous to you and the people around you. A serious mountain and steep runs require serious effort and should be a “high” all on its own.

Drop Stuff (Or Litter)

Some folks will eat energy bars, candy or drink water on the chairlift ride. Put the wrapper in your pocket until you get to a trash can – and don’t drop your phone, gloves, poles, skis and board when you are riding up the chair. Skiers under the chair will thank you. There are typically trash cans at the top of a lift or at the lift line.

Get Out of Control

Keep working on improving but do it gradually and within reason. Bunny slope to Black Diamond in one day is not realistic (or safe). Don’t go faster or steeper than you can handle. Travel at the speed you are comfortable with and where you can control your turns and make a quick stop if necessary.

Ski Passed A Man/Woman Down

Every skier has a ‘yard sale’ at some point (a wipe out across the hill that leaves skis, poles, hats, googles and dentures scattered everywhere). If you come across a yard sale, or worse, stop and ask if the downed skier is ok and/or if they need help. You can help collect their belongings or call for the Ski Patrol if they are injured.

OK – back to the fun. It’s all about having a great day outdoors and enjoying yourself. Common sense and good manners go a long way on the slopes. Stay safe, respect others and have a good time.

The post Guide to Great Etiquette on the Mountain appeared first on Liftopia Blog.

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An ever-growing number of famous films have used ski resorts for their sets.  Sometimes the movies are so big the resorts never forget their time in the spotlight and stage annual festivals or even build permanent exhibitions themed on the film. In other cases, the money the film company pays is invested in resort infrastructure so we can all thank the film company for that lift or restaurant actually being built. Here are 10 of the best examples:

 1. Inception

The ski resort of Fortress Mountain Alberta, Canada was the location for the climactic scenes of Inception. The resort had closed down when the film was shot and is yet to fully re-open but income from the film company allowed an access bridge to be replaced enabling skiing to resume and the resort’s operators say full re-opening is coming closer with every movie filmed there (there have been several more including The Bourne Legacy and The Revenant since Inception).

This is a great look at the production of the famous scene.

Inception Behind the Scenes - Dream Fortress (2010) Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy Movie HD - YouTube

2. Dumb and Dumber

The quirky comedy movie with hapless duo Jim Carrey as Lloyd and Jeff Daniels as Harry features the infamous frozen-tongue-stuck-to-metal-pole scene. Supposedly set in Aspen, some resort scenes were filmed in Breckenridge and Park City and the ski scenes at Copper Mountain. There’s a Denver business now selling Dumb and Dumber holiday packages to Aspen complete with orange and lilac tux attire.

Don’t Lick the Lifts

3. Help!

Fans of The Beatles may recall the movies they made to accompany several of the albums, with Help! the second movie released in 1965. This included ski scenes shot at the Austrian resort of Obertauern, then a bit of a backwater. Now some of the young men that helped on location are wealthy property owners running the resort’s 4 and 5-star hotels and the resort celebrates its Beatles connection every year.

4. River of No Return

Marilyn Monroe stayed in Banff in 1953 for filming River of No Return which was shot in both the local Banff and neighbouring Jasper National Parks. Monroe and husband-to-be baseball star Joe DiMaggio stayed in the iconic Banff Springs and Jasper Park Lodge hotels during filming and Monroe took a chairlift ride up Banff’s local Mt Norquay ski hill for a stop at the tearoom up at the top of the lift.  

5. Downhill Racer

Before owning his own ski resort, Sundance in Utah, Robert Redford played a quietly cocky ski racer who joined the U.S. ski team but then clashes with the team’s coach, played by Gene Hackman. It all ends well and there are some great ski scenes, many shot in top European resorts like St Anton, Megeve, Kitzbuhel and Wengen and although there’s also filming in Colorado.

Downhill Racer - Trailer - YouTube

6. Hot Dog, The Movie

The archetypal ‘cheesy 80s comedy movie’ sees local-farm-boy-made-good Harkin Banks, take on smug Euro-ski-racer Rudy in a fictional freestyle skiing world championships with plenty of misadventures along the way.  Although it is described as ‘low budget’ it did cost a reputed $20m to make 35 years ago and thankfully for the film company grossed $33m. Squaw Valley is happy to be associated with the fun of this film and it’s a good excuse to stage film anniversary celebrations in dayglo 80s-gear in the years since.

Hot Dog... The Movie Official Trailer #1 - James Saito Movie (1984) HD - YouTube

007 James Bond

With more than five decades of filming and some 26 James Bond movies now it’s hardly surprising that the excitement of action on snowboards, skis and snowmobiles have been shot in more than half-a-dozen resorts, most of them in Europe, although the famous “Ski over a cliff” shot in the opening sequence of ‘A View to a Kill’ was shot at Mt Asgard on Baffin Island.

Snow Chasing Scene | A View To A Kill (1985) - YouTube

Several ski resorts in the Alps still play on their Bond shooting history a bit like former Olympic hosts proudly reflect on their heritage. The classic Swiss resort of Murren is where the 1970 movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was shot, and indeed fees from the film company helped meet the budget to complete a mountain top revolving restaurant there. More recently Solden in Austria was used as a location for snow shots ion the most recent Bond movie, Spectre, and this season opened a major Boon themed audio-visual exhibition inside a mountain named ‘007 Elements’.

8. Cliffhanger

Although supposedly set in the Colorado Rockies (and parts of it were shot around Durango), Sylvester Stallone’s 1993 edge-of-your-seat mountaineering thriller had most of its action scenes short in the Italian Dolomites around the chic ski resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo.

CLIFFHANGER - Official Trailer 4K Restoration - YouTube

9. Eddie The Eagle

The unlikely Olympic hero at the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, Canada was always great material for a movie – the local boy who made it to the biggest sporting event on earth, and doing something most of us are terrified of trying ourselves – ski jumping – against all the odds. In 2016 that film was made starring Taron Egerton as Eddie and Hugh Jackman as his washed-up coach and was filmed at some of the real ski jumps including Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Oberstdorf and Seefeld.

10. Hot Tub Time Machine

With one of the greatest film titles, and indeed movie concepts of all time, it seems only right that the Hot Tub Time Machine was shot in one of the world’s great ski resorts too – Fernie in BC (if not Sun Valley, Idaho, which is often credited as the place where hot tubs were invented). For the few people who may not have seen it, the film premise is that after an all-night party in a hot tub during their vacation, four men wake up back in 1986. Genius.

Hot Tub Time Machine: 1986 Mountain and Ski Lodge Scenes - YouTube

Where was your favorite ski scene shot? Let’s hear them in the comments!

The post On Set: Ski Resorts Where Popular Movies Were Filmed appeared first on Liftopia Blog.

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Imagine this: you’re on vacation at a terrific ski resort. You wake up in the morning, look out the window, and see white, white, and more white dumping down from the sky. It’s a powder day! Do you:

  1. Say, “Ugh, I can’t ski that. I’ll wait til the mountain’s all groomed,” and crawl back to bed: or do you…
  2. Shout “WOOHOO,” do a happy dance, and rush out to get first tracks?

If you answered A, well, my friend, you’re missing out. There’s a reason powder days generate so much excitement. Skiing powder can be positively exhilarating. There’s little that compares to the feeling of floating through deep, pillowy piles of snow. Once you do it, you’ll want to do it again…and again…and again.

Granted, skiing powder does have its challenges. It’s very different from skiing groomers. So if you’ve tried skiing powder and been less than successful, don’t despair. There are things you can do to make skiing powder as amazing as people make it out to be.

Wider is better.

Years ago, people skied powder on narrow skis. (Heck, they skied everything on narrow skis.) But narrow skis can turn a powder day into a day of pure frustration. Remember, powder acts more like a liquid than a solid, so you want something with more surface area than you get with a narrow ski. You want something wide, and you want it with rocker.

What’s rocker? Conventional skis have camber, which is a slight arch that curves upward at the middle of the ski. Camber helps you initiate turns and engage the edge of the ski on hard snow conditions. Rocker, otherwise known as reverse camber, has the exact opposite profile, making the ski more U-shaped and causing the tips and tails to curve up and away from the middle. Skis come with a variety of degrees of rocker, ranging from slight to extreme. In recent years there’s been a movement toward skis with rocker in the tips and tails. This makes your ski more maneuverable in powder and gives you the float you’re looking for.

How wide a ski should you go for? It depends largely on where you ski. In general, powder skis are anywhere between 98 mm and 130 mm under foot. Someone who skis in the East may want something on the narrower end of that spectrum, in the West, on the wider side. 

The Powder Technique

As I said above, skiing powder is not like skiing groomers. With good reason: there’s no hard surface in which to set an edge.

One of the best ways to learn to ski powder is to take a powder lesson, where an instructor can teach you the proper technique. However, there are some things you can keep in mind for a good powder day:

• Be aggressive. I know it’s challenging to ski in unfamiliar conditions, and you may want to take it slow. But powder is a natural speed reducer. Go too slow, and you’re not going to be able to float, which can make changing directions more difficult. Speed is your friend. Use it to your advantage.

• Stay pointed down the hill. Instead of traveling across the hill when you move from one turn to another, keep your body pointed downhill as much as possible. Be sure to keep your hands forward and don’t let them drag behind you; that’ll affect your balance and could cause you to fall. Take a more direct line down the hill and go for it. You’ll do a lot better, and hey, if you fall, at least you’ll be falling in the soft stuff.

• Keep even pressure on both skis. Think of your feet as a platform and keep your weight evenly and continuously distributed between your legs. Too wide a stance and you could end up with two separate platforms, which could disrupt your balance. Try to keep it fairly narrow. Also, don’t shift your weight from one ski to another, as you would on a groomer; the light ski will be deflected by the snow and you could end up in a face plant.

• Round your turns. Keep your turns rounded but not too big — remember, you want to stay pointed down the hill as much as possible — and don’t make any sharp, abrupt movements. Make all your turns as if you have one big ski.

• Get out of the back seat. This is one of the biggest mistakes people make skiing powder. Instead of keeping their weight forward, they sink back, almost like they’re sitting in a chair. This is going to kill your quads and tire you out quickly. Keeping your arms forward will help, as will keeping your shoulders pointed down the hill. It’s all about finding a balanced center. If you’re too far forward, you’ll tumble forward, and if you are too far back, you’ll go over that way, too.

• Make a retraction. I’ve found that one of the best ways to ski powder is using what’s known as a retraction turn. To start the turn, flex both legs at the same time then extend them out to the side together. Flex again, then extend to the other side. Repeat over and over again, from one side to another. Practice on a groomer so you’re ready for powder when it arrives.

HOW TO SKI POWDER | 10 TIPS - YouTube
More Tips on How to Ski Powder What if You Fall?

You will, and that’s fine. It’s a lot softer to fall in powder than it is on a hard, groomed surface. Getting up, however, can be difficult, especially when you can’t touch bottom. Here’s a tip: Take both of your poles and make an X to create a bit of a platform. Grab the poles at the intersection of the X and push against the snow. This will help bring you upright.

Getting your boot back into the binding can be difficult, too. If your bindings release, don’t try to click in by pushing down onto the ski. This will only push the ski deeper and deeper into the snow. First, pick up the ski and make sure the binding is clear of snow. Put the back of the ski in the snow, support yourself with your poles, and clear the snow from the bottom of your boot. Then put the toe of your boot into the toe piece of the binding, then the heel, and push in.  You should be ready to go!

Skiing in powder takes practice, but it can be an amazing, rewarding experience.  Trust me, once you learn how, you’re going to love it.

The post A How-to Guide on Skiing Powder appeared first on Liftopia Blog.

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Imagine this: you’re on vacation at a terrific ski resort. You wake up in the morning, look out the window, and see white, white, and more white dumping down from the sky. It’s a powder day! Do you:

  1. Say, “Ugh, I can’t ski that. I’ll wait til the mountain’s all groomed,” and crawl back to bed: or do you…
  2. Shout “WOOHOO,” do a happy dance, and rush out to get first tracks?

If you answered A, well, my friend, you’re missing out. There’s a reason powder days generate so much excitement. Skiing powder can be positively exhilarating. There’s little that compares to the feeling of floating through deep, pillowy piles of snow. Once you do it, you’ll want to do it again…and again…and again.

Granted, skiing powder does have its challenges. It’s very different from skiing groomers. So if you’ve tried skiing powder and been less than successful, don’t despair. There are things you can do to make skiing powder as amazing as people make it out to be.

Wider is better.

Years ago, people skied powder on narrow skis. (Heck, they skied everything on narrow skis.) But narrow skis can turn a powder day into a day of pure frustration. Remember, powder acts more like a liquid than a solid, so you want something with more surface area than you get with a narrow ski. You want something wide, and you want it with rocker.

What’s rocker? Conventional skis have camber, which is a slight arch that curves upward at the middle of the ski. Camber helps you initiate turns and engage the edge of the ski on hard snow conditions. Rocker, otherwise known as reverse camber, has the exact opposite profile, making the ski more U-shaped and causing the tips and tails to curve up and away from the middle. Skis come with a variety of degrees of rocker, ranging from slight to extreme. In recent years there’s been a movement toward skis with rocker in the tips and tails. This makes your ski more maneuverable in powder and gives you the float you’re looking for.

How wide a ski should you go for? It depends largely on where you ski. In general, powder skis are anywhere between 98 mm and 130 mm under foot. Someone who skis in the East may want something on the narrower end of that spectrum, in the West, on the wider side. 

The Powder Technique

As I said above, skiing powder is not like skiing groomers. With good reason: there’s no hard surface in which to set an edge.

One of the best ways to learn to ski powder is to take a powder lesson, where an instructor can teach you the proper technique. However, there are some things you can keep in mind for a good powder day:

• Be aggressive. I know it’s challenging to ski in unfamiliar conditions, and you may want to take it slow. But powder is a natural speed reducer. Go too slow, and you’re not going to be able to float, which can make changing directions more difficult. Speed is your friend. Use it to your advantage.

• Stay pointed down the hill. Instead of traveling across the hill when you move from one turn to another, keep your body pointed downhill as much as possible. Be sure to keep your hands forward and don’t let them drag behind you; that’ll affect your balance and could cause you to fall. Take a more direct line down the hill and go for it. You’ll do a lot better, and hey, if you fall, at least you’ll be falling in the soft stuff.

• Keep even pressure on both skis. Think of your feet as a platform and keep your weight evenly and continuously distributed between your legs. Too wide a stance and you could end up with two separate platforms, which could disrupt your balance. Try to keep it fairly narrow. Also, don’t shift your weight from one ski to another, as you would on a groomer; the light ski will be deflected by the snow and you could end up in a face plant.

• Round your turns. Keep your turns rounded but not too big — remember, you want to stay pointed down the hill as much as possible — and don’t make any sharp, abrupt movements. Make all your turns as if you have one big ski.

• Get out of the back seat. This is one of the biggest mistakes people make skiing powder. Instead of keeping their weight forward, they sink back, almost like they’re sitting in a chair. This is going to kill your quads and tire you out quickly. Keeping your arms forward will help, as will keeping your shoulders pointed down the hill. It’s all about finding a balanced center. If you’re too far forward, you’ll tumble forward, and if you are too far back, you’ll go over that way, too.

• Make a retraction. I’ve found that one of the best ways to ski powder is using what’s known as a retraction turn. To start the turn, flex both legs at the same time then extend them out to the side together. Flex again, then extend to the other side. Repeat over and over again, from one side to another. Practice on a groomer so you’re ready for powder when it arrives.

HOW TO SKI POWDER | 10 TIPS - YouTube
More Tips on How to Ski Powder What if You Fall?

You will, and that’s fine. It’s a lot softer to fall in powder than it is on a hard, groomed surface. Getting up, however, can be difficult, especially when you can’t touch bottom. Here’s a tip: Take both of your poles and make an X to create a bit of a platform. Grab the poles at the intersection of the X and push against the snow. This will help bring you upright.

Getting your boot back into the binding can be difficult, too. If your bindings release, don’t try to click in by pushing down onto the ski. This will only push the ski deeper and deeper into the snow. First, pick up the ski and make sure the binding is clear of snow. Put the back of the ski in the snow, support yourself with your poles, and clear the snow from the bottom of your boot. Then put the toe of your boot into the toe piece of the binding, then the heel, and push in.  You should be ready to go!

Skiing in powder takes practice, but it can be an amazing, rewarding experience.  Trust me, once you learn how, you’re going to love it.

The post A How-to Guide on Skiing Powder appeared first on Liftopia Blog.

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Editors Note: This piece has been updated for 2019

A few years ago, I put together a list of the biggest ski areas in North America. Re-reading it recently, I was surprised just how quickly the list had got out-of-date—it seems the biggest ski areas in America keep getting bigger pretty quickly. In fact, things have changed so much in just a few years it seems a whole new list is required rather than an update of the original piece.

Buy lift tickets in advance on Liftopia.com and save.

The first thing to say, before we start on the list, is that there are different ways to measure size. We usually measure ski area by acreage in Canada and the USA, but over in Europe, resorts more often measure the combined length of all the groomed ski runs added together.

There are many other ways you can also measure ski areas, for example: most uplift capacity of their ski lifts or the biggest by popularity (skier days). For an extra layer of complexity, some of the biggest ski areas are adjacent to other ski areas that are separately owned or private—Do you add the two together because you can physically ski both under one lift ticket, or treat them as separate as their owners do? It’s a judgement call you can make either way.

Anyways, here are our contenders for biggest ski areas in North America.

1. Whistler Blackcomb, BC, Canada – 8,171 acres

Whistler Blackcomb has long claimed the honors for boasting the biggest ski area in North America. The area stats haven’t changed but owners Vail Resorts did just spend mega-bucks upgrading three lifts to fast, queue-gobbling 10 seater gondola and 4 and 6-seat high-speed chairs. So the hourly uplift capacity has gone through the 780,000 people per hour mark which essentially means you can get to ski all of it more quickly and comfortably than ever before.

See Western Canada lift tickets.

2. Park City Mountain, Utah – 7,300 acres

Vail Resorts also own the biggest ski area in Utah, which they created by linking the ski slopes of the former Park City Mountain resort and Canyons ski areas after they gained control of the two separate resorts. A German cartographer who precisely measured all the large ski areas in North America actually believes Park City has more runs, measured by length end-to-end, than Whistler Blackcomb does, but by official area stats, Whistler Blackcomb remains a little bigger.

See Utah lift tickets.

3. Big Sky, Montana – 5,800 acres

Officially promoted as offering the “Biggest Skiing in America” skiers lucky enough to be on the slopes at Big sky really feel the space at this vast, away-from-it-all ski area. Adding 50 acres since our last round-up two years ago, Big Sky also unveiled the first 8-seat chairlift in North America this winter.

See Big Sky lift tickets.

4. Vail, Colorado – 5,289 acres

Four of the five biggest ski areas in North America are operated by Vail Resorts (Big Sky is the one that wasn’t, at time of writing at least) and Vail is of course where that multi-resort mega-corporation got started. The ski area is also the largest ‘single mountain’ ski area in North America – which means the bigger areas are all made up of two or more merged areas.

See Colorado lift tickets.

5. Heavenly, California, Nevada – 4,800 acres

Tahoe’s largest ski area is the fifth biggest in North America, straddling the state line between California and Nevada. With almost 100 slopes, 28 chairlifts, 3,500 lift-served vertical feet (unmatched on the West Coast) and a 10,067 feet of elevation (the highest in Lake Tahoe) it’s good on some other stats too.

See Tahoe lift tickets.

6. Mt Bachelor, Oregon – 4,318 acres

Mt Bachelor has got a little more precise with its 4,300+ acreage measurement and now has its total at exactly 4,318 acres. Mt Bachelor boasts the highest skiable elevation in all of Oregon and Washington in the Pacific Northwest and you can head off in any direction through 360 degrees from the summit.

See Oregon lift tickets.

7. Sun Peaks, BC, Canada – 4,270 acres

The second, BC, Canada entry in our top 10 is the ever-expanding Sun Peaks resorts which added another new quad chairlift this winter. Further expansion taking it further up the table in coming years seems inevitable.

See Sun Peaks lift tickets.

8. (tie) Lake Louise, Canada – 4,200 acres

Canada’s third biggest ski area, Lake Louise, has more than 140 ski runs plus its famous back bowls to enjoy. It has a long range plan to add Hidden Bowl and West Bowl to the Lake Louise Ski Area for limited winter use, but it’s a really long term plan (10-15 years) as things move slowly and carefully when developments are proposed in National Park Land. The resort says it will remove approximately 1,000 hectares of environmentally sensitive area from its lease, to be returned to Parks Canada’s control as designated wilderness lands, in exchange for the chance to develop the bowls for snowsports.

See Lake Louise lift tickets.

8. (tie) Red Mountain, BC, Canada – 4,200 acres

A relatively new entry and the third in BC, Canada, Red jumped in to the North American top 10 by adding an “entirely new peak” and nearly 1,000 acres of new terrain with it, Grey Mountain.

“Well, OK, Grey’s been there for millions of years, but without runs or lifts on it,” a Red Resort spokesperson confessed.

See Red Mountain lift tickets

10. Squaw Valley, California – 3,600 acres

The second entry from Lake Tahoe, making California the only US state with two entries in the top 10. Squaw Valley was previously widely reported as having 4,000 acres of terrain but is currently saying the total is 3,600 acres.

See Squaw Valley lift tickets.

BONUS: Bubbling Under

Just outside the top 10 we have three ski areas at around 3,500 acres:

3,592 acres, Castle Mountain, Alberta, Canada; “over 3,500 acres,” for Mammoth, California, and new entry, “3,500+ acres” for Kicking Horse, BC, Canada.

Kicking Horse, already fifth biggest on the continent for lift-served vertical (4,460 feet/1360m), have had the biggest terrain expansion in North America this winter 2018/19 adding the Middle Ridge, Fuez Bowl and parts of Rudi’s Bowl to their total.

Other Big Ski Areas of Note: 8,550 acres, Yellowstone Club + Big Sky, Montana

Big Sky isn’t quite North America’s biggest ski area (although its expansion possibilities mean it may be one day) but for the multi-millionaires who own property at the Yellowstone Club, a private ski resort that seamlessly connects its own slopes with those of Big Sky, it is! Both resorts have expanded their ski areas a little over the past few years and that takes the combined total (Big Sky’s 5,850 + 2,700 acres at the Yellowstone Club past whistler Blackcomb and Powder Mountain’s totals. The only hitch to skiing it all is that you need to be a property owner at the Yellowstone Club, where property starts from several million dollars, to be able to ski there. Or you could work on befriending a billionaire and getting access to the slopes as an official guest.

8,464 acres, Powder Mountain, Utah

Powder Mountain actually has the biggest ski area in North America if you count everything within its boundaries, exclude the Yellowstone Club + Big Sky combination. However, as the area only has six chairlifts compared to Whistler Blackcomb’s 19 chairs and three gondolas, it is not generally included in the North American top 10. But that is a judgement call and some, including powder mountain itself, would put it at number one.

6,000 acres, Squaw Valley / Alpine Meadows, California, USA

Now jointly owned and managed and promoted as one resort with one ticket, a long term plan to link these two ski areas by gondola seems to be coming closer. Do we then count them as one ski area, the second biggest in the US and third in North America, or doesn’t that count if you can’t ski from one side to the other?

5,303 acres, Aspen, Colorado

The four ski areas of Aspen Snowmass: Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk combined offer 5,303 total acres of skiable terrain, eight terrain parks and 336 trails served by 46 lifts all o one lift pass, but you need to drive or take a shuttle between each sector.

60,000 acres, Whisper Ridge, Utah

Cat-skiing at its finest with eight ski cats accessing a vast back country wilderness wonderland. No lifts and no groomed runs so not in our top 10.

2.6 million acres, Heliski BC or Alaska

When it comes to heliskiing there aren’t many limits – you just go ski where the helicopter takes you. But the operators do have licensed usage areas and some of them quote bigger numbers than others (although all the numbers quoted are pretty astronomical).

The two biggest, both with permits that cover around 2.6 million acres (that’s around the size of Connecticut) are Bella Coola, who have a permit for the Coast Range mountains in BC, Canada; then a little further West, Valdez AK Heli-Skiing have the same size of domain in Alaska.

The post The Biggest Ski Areas In North America Right Now – 2019 appeared first on Liftopia Blog.

Read Full Article
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Editors Note: This piece has been updated for 2019

A few years ago, I put together a list of the biggest ski areas in North America. Re-reading it recently, I was surprised just how quickly the list had got out-of-date—it seems the biggest ski areas in America keep getting bigger pretty quickly. In fact, things have changed so much in just a few years it seems a whole new list is required rather than an update of the original piece.

Buy lift tickets in advance on Liftopia.com and save.

The first thing to say, before we start on the list, is that there are different ways to measure size. We usually measure ski area by acreage in Canada and the USA, but over in Europe, resorts more often measure the combined length of all the groomed ski runs added together.

There are many other ways you can also measure ski areas, for example: most uplift capacity of their ski lifts or the biggest by popularity (skier days). For an extra layer of complexity, some of the biggest ski areas are adjacent to other ski areas that are separately owned or private—Do you add the two together because you can physically ski both under one lift ticket, or treat them as separate as their owners do? It’s a judgement call you can make either way.

Anyways, here are our contenders for biggest ski areas in North America.

1. Whistler Blackcomb, BC, Canada – 8,171 acres

Whistler Blackcomb has long claimed the honors for boasting the biggest ski area in North America. The area stats haven’t changed but owners Vail Resorts did just spend mega-bucks upgrading three lifts to fast, queue-gobbling 10 seater gondola and 4 and 6-seat high-speed chairs. So the hourly uplift capacity has gone through the 780,000 people per hour mark which essentially means you can get to ski all of it more quickly and comfortably than ever before.

See Western Canada lift tickets.

2. Park City Mountain, Utah – 7,300 acres

Vail Resorts also own the biggest ski area in Utah, which they created by linking the ski slopes of the former Park City Mountain resort and Canyons ski areas after they gained control of the two separate resorts. A German cartographer who precisely measured all the large ski areas in North America actually believes Park City has more runs, measured by length end-to-end, than Whistler Blackcomb does, but by official area stats, Whistler Blackcomb remains a little bigger.

See Utah lift tickets.

3. Big Sky, Montana – 5,800 acres

Officially promoted as offering the “Biggest Skiing in America” skiers lucky enough to be on the slopes at Big sky really feel the space at this vast, away-from-it-all ski area. Adding 50 acres since our last round-up two years ago, Big Sky also unveiled the first 8-seat chairlift in North America this winter.

See Big Sky lift tickets.

4. Vail, Colorado – 5,289 acres

Four of the five biggest ski areas in North America are operated by Vail Resorts (Big Sky is the one that wasn’t, at time of writing at least) and Vail is of course where that multi-resort mega-corporation got started. The ski area is also the largest ‘single mountain’ ski area in North America – which means the bigger areas are all made up of two or more merged areas.

See Colorado lift tickets.

5. Heavenly, California, Nevada – 4,800 acres

Tahoe’s largest ski area is the fifth biggest in North America, straddling the state line between California and Nevada. With almost 100 slopes, 28 chairlifts, 3,500 lift-served vertical feet (unmatched on the West Coast) and a 10,067 feet of elevation (the highest in Lake Tahoe) it’s good on some other stats too.

See Tahoe lift tickets.

6. Mt Bachelor, Oregon – 4,318 acres

Mt Bachelor has got a little more precise with its 4,300+ acreage measurement and now has its total at exactly 4,318 acres. Mt Bachelor boasts the highest skiable elevation in all of Oregon and Washington in the Pacific Northwest and you can head off in any direction through 360 degrees from the summit.

See Oregon lift tickets.

7. Sun Peaks, BC, Canada – 4,270 acres

The second, BC, Canada entry in our top 10 is the ever-expanding Sun Peaks resorts which added another new quad chairlift this winter. Further expansion taking it further up the table in coming years seems inevitable.

See Sun Peaks lift tickets.

8. (tie) Lake Louise, Canada – 4,200 acres

Canada’s third biggest ski area, Lake Louise, has more than 140 ski runs plus its famous back bowls to enjoy. It has a long range plan to add Hidden Bowl and West Bowl to the Lake Louise Ski Area for limited winter use, but it’s a really long term plan (10-15 years) as things move slowly and carefully when developments are proposed in National Park Land. The resort says it will remove approximately 1,000 hectares of environmentally sensitive area from its lease, to be returned to Parks Canada’s control as designated wilderness lands, in exchange for the chance to develop the bowls for snowsports.

See Lake Louise lift tickets.

8. (tie) Red Mountain, BC, Canada – 4,200 acres

A relatively new entry and the third in BC, Canada, Red jumped in to the North American top 10 by adding an “entirely new peak” and nearly 1,000 acres of new terrain with it, Grey Mountain.

“Well, OK, Grey’s been there for millions of years, but without runs or lifts on it,” a Red Resort spokesperson confessed.

See Red Mountain lift tickets

10. Squaw Valley, California – 3,600 acres

The second entry from Lake Tahoe, making California the only US state with two entries in the top 10. Squaw Valley was previously widely reported as having 4,000 acres of terrain but is currently saying the total is 3,600 acres.

See Squaw Valley lift tickets.

BONUS: Bubbling Under

Just outside the top 10 we have three ski areas at around 3,500 acres:

3,592 acres, Castle Mountain, Alberta, Canada; “over 3,500 acres,” for Mammoth, California, and new entry, “3,500+ acres” for Kicking Horse, BC, Canada.

Kicking Horse, already fifth biggest on the continent for lift-served vertical (4,460 feet/1360m), have had the biggest terrain expansion in North America this winter 2018/19 adding the Middle Ridge, Fuez Bowl and parts of Rudi’s Bowl to their total.

Other Big Ski Areas of Note: 8,550 acres, Yellowstone Club + Big Sky, Montana

Big Sky isn’t quite North America’s biggest ski area (although its expansion possibilities mean it may be one day) but for the multi-millionaires who own property at the Yellowstone Club, a private ski resort that seamlessly connects its own slopes with those of Big Sky, it is! Both resorts have expanded their ski areas a little over the past few years and that takes the combined total (Big Sky’s 5,850 + 2,700 acres at the Yellowstone Club past whistler Blackcomb and Powder Mountain’s totals. The only hitch to skiing it all is that you need to be a property owner at the Yellowstone Club, where property starts from several million dollars, to be able to ski there. Or you could work on befriending a billionaire and getting access to the slopes as an official guest.

8,464 acres, Powder Mountain, Utah

Powder Mountain actually has the biggest ski area in North America if you count everything within its boundaries, exclude the Yellowstone Club + Big Sky combination. However, as the area only has six chairlifts compared to Whistler Blackcomb’s 19 chairs and three gondolas, it is not generally included in the North American top 10. But that is a judgement call and some, including powder mountain itself, would put it at number one.

6,000 acres, Squaw Valley / Alpine Meadows, California, USA

Now jointly owned and managed and promoted as one resort with one ticket, a long term plan to link these two ski areas by gondola seems to be coming closer. Do we then count them as one ski area, the second biggest in the US and third in North America, or doesn’t that count if you can’t ski from one side to the other?

5,303 acres, Aspen, Colorado

The four ski areas of Aspen Snowmass: Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk combined offer 5,303 total acres of skiable terrain, eight terrain parks and 336 trails served by 46 lifts all o one lift pass, but you need to drive or take a shuttle between each sector.

60,000 acres, Whisper Ridge, Utah

Cat-skiing at its finest with eight ski cats accessing a vast back country wilderness wonderland. No lifts and no groomed runs so not in our top 10.

2.6 million acres, Heliski BC or Alaska

When it comes to heliskiing there aren’t many limits – you just go ski where the helicopter takes you. But the operators do have licensed usage areas and some of them quote bigger numbers than others (although all the numbers quoted are pretty astronomical).

The two biggest, both with permits that cover around 2.6 million acres (that’s around the size of Connecticut) are Bella Coola, who have a permit for the Coast Range mountains in BC, Canada; then a little further West, Valdez AK Heli-Skiing have the same size of domain in Alaska.

The post The Biggest Ski Areas In North America Right Now – 2019 appeared first on Liftopia Blog.

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