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You can laugh all you want at Engrish.com, but when you break your tibia after charging through Japan’s deep boreal forest, it’s on you if you tell rescuers Anata no sotsugyouseisoudai dakara, tetsudatte kitte itte kudasai kono zubon ni iru atsui ninshin ni. (“As the valedictorian, please be helping with the hot pregnancy in my pants.”)
Honorable Mentions: Krasnaya Polyana, Russia | Le Massif, Quebec
It’s at the foot of El Colorado and La Parva resorts, both connected to Valle Nevado, and the road laps alone are worth the move there. Factor in the nights of lamb-beques on an open fire, $4 bottles of wine, and the small but friendly group of Chileno rippers in this sleepy town of skiers, and you’ll be marrying a local for the visa.
Honorable Mentions: Mt. Hood, OR; Wanaka, New Zealand
Walk up to the entrance to Mad River and you’ll see Paul Marble selling his maple syrup out of the back of his gray ’88 F-150. This is his 30th year selling Vermont’s finest legal export. Put it on your pancakes, or make this:
-Squeeze the juice of one lemon into a 12-ounce glass.
-Add a shot of dark rum, three tablespoons of maple syrup, and a dash of cayenne pepper.
-Fill the rest of the glass with water and ice, then stir.
Two reasons why you shouldn’t fall on Silver City: (1) The pelvis, in many respects, works better without surgical screws. (2) This area, the gnarliest inbounds terrain on the continent, has only two lines without mandatory airs. So if you fall, it’s not going to be pretty, and neither will you.
Honorable Mentions: Body Bag, Crested Butte, CO | The Apple Core, Big Sky, MT
All you need to know about the Upper Peninsula’s Mount Bohemia is that it has triple-black-diamond runs. For real. Go pick up a trail map. Granted, not one of those runs is nearly as rugged as a double black at any Western resort, but a Midwest ski area that has 15-foot cliffs and 270 annual inches of snow is OK in our book.
Honorable Mentions: Buck Hill, MN | Boyne Mountain, MI
In last fall’s roundup of the best ski-town bars (“34 Reasons to Drink in a Ski Town,” November 2008), we neglected to mention the best in class. The Matterhorn’s bar top is made of vintage skis, the walls are covered with ski memorabilia from every era, and friendly owners serve wood-fired pizzas and their own Ski Bar Beer and play ski-porn on big-screen TVs. That’s everything you need in a ski bar.
Honorable Mention: Snorting Elk Cellar, Crystal Mountain, WA
If it’s too stormy to open the upper mountain, there’s a good chance that only KT and Red Dog chairs will be running. No problem. You can spend all day lapping the 1,800-vertical-foot KT-22 and you won’t get bored. After all, the lift got its name when it took Squaw pioneer Sandy Poulsen 22 kick turns to get down the run’s north-facing steeps in 1948.
Honorable Mentions: John Paul Express, Snowbasin, UT | Motherlode Chair, Red Mountain, BC
The competition of none was fierce. But this drink has everything you need in a cocktail: obnoxious name, vodka, a hunk of pork sausage, and martini glassware that only a pompous ass would be proud to drink from. Ahhh.
Don’t worry, Jackson locals. Nobody hates you as much as you hate them. Furthermore, none of us can ski as well as you do (aside from everyone at Whistler, Squaw, and Snowbird). Nor can anyone hike as fast (aside from everyone at Revelstoke, Aspen, and Baker). Until we can, we’ll continue to humor you.
Honorable Mentions: Snowbird, UT | Squaw Valley, CA
So you’ve made the decision to alienate your loved ones and take a last-minute trip here. Good for you. But what to ski? Some of the best skiing is hidden from plain sight, some of it isn’t. If you don’t know the mountain well, hiring a Jackson guide (pictured) can make or break your trip. If you’re skiing the hill, hire a Jackson guide here. After a couple of days at the hill, you may want to go for a backcountry tour at nearby Teton Pass. Timing is good: Glory Bowl and Mount Taylor were deep today. Get in touch with Yostmark backcountry tours if you’re interested.
If you’re the King or Queen of Big Sky, the Lone Peak Tram is your throne. It may not be covered in quilted velvet and you may have to share it, but the position is lofty nonetheless. It’s simple: If you’re a dedicated local and ski well, the ski patrol could anoint you for the season. Royal privileges include cutting any lift line you’d like. All we ask is that you remember us commoners.
Honorable Mentions: The House of Windsor | The sultanate of Brunei
Mount Baker has no hotels, no high-speed quads, and no lift lines. So go for the world-record snowfall and killer terrain. Drop the steep rollovers and trees off Chair 5 or grab your beacon, shovel, probe, and partner and head out the gate to Shuksan Arm.
Honorable Mentions: Powder Mountain, UT | Whitewater, BC | Middlebury Snow Bowl, VT
You can’t help but love this lodge just for its name. But then add the fact that it is a 15-minute drive from Taos Ski Valley, has a communal kitchen for cooking ramen, and charges just $22 a night for a bunk bed. Or upgrade to a private 10-by-10-foot cabin with a shared bath for $32. And for $3 a day extra, you can get wi-fi. [snowmansion.com]
Honorable Mentions: University of BC Hostel, Whistler, BC | The Hyde Away Inn, Waitsfield, VT | HI-Lake Louise Alpine Center, Lake Louise, AB
Normally locals want nothing to do with tourists. But here’s what Libby, Montana, local Don Crawford said when this magazine—a bunch of strangers—showed up at Turner, his home hill: “I have yet to have a bad day at Turner. It’s an open-enrollment ski club with a nice mountain and friendly folks that enjoy their skiing and hope you will too. Allow time for beer and pizza at the Red Dog Tavern if possible.”
Mt. Baker, WA | Mount Sunapee, NH