Resort Guide

How Stuff Works: SKI Reader Resort Survey

No, resorts cannot buy their way into the rankings, and other questions answered about our annual reader survey.

With the arrival of a new ski season comes new survey results and resort rankings from SKI Magazine. So seems like a good time to clear up some misconceptions about how our Top 50 Resorts are calculated. 

During the survey process, respondents are asked to rate a resort on 20 criteria, from the skier-centric Snow, Grooming, and Challenge categories, to the lighter resort amenities such as Après, Lodging, and Charm. While we do not weight the results for the main Top 50 list, we do create weighted Top 10 lists, such as Skier’s Mountain, which prizes the scores in categories such as Challenge, Snow, and Terrain Variety while giving less weight to the resort amenities that might not be as crucial for the person looking to ski bell-to-bell.

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Jackson Hole, Wyo., placed No. 13 overall in the West in this year’s rankings, but took top honors in the Challenge category.Courtesy of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort/Amy Jimmerson

To keep things fair—so that tiny Mt. Mom-n-Pop in lower Podunkville, which received four survey responses with top rankings across the board, doesn’t take top honors—we have a minimum number of survey responses required for a resort to make the cut. We also have safeguards in place within our survey software that weeds out duplicate responses both by email and IP address, so “stuffing the box” is close to impossible.

Now for the misconceptions: 

  1. No matter how many times we say it, write it, promote it, or publish it, people think that we, SKI’s editors, are deciding the results. This is 100 percent a readers’ survey, the editors have no say in the results. 
  2. No money or exchange of advertising is involved in the process. Absolutely none. We host the survey, and you, the readers, decide the Top 50. 
Air at Jay Peak
Vermont’s Jay Peak, No. 11 overall in East, gets dinged for being hard to get to, but pulls high scores in Snow (No. 1), Value (No. 3), and Challenge (No. 3).Photo courtesy of Jay Peak / Tim Fater

Like any survey, not everyone is going to be pleased with the results. We’re not always pleased, either, and sometimes we’re downright befuddled. (Stowe No. 13 in the East? Snowbird No. 27 in the West?) But it’s the voice of our readers, and we respect it. The way we see it, the editorial staff dictates 95 percent of the content across our platforms every season, so letting the reader survey stand is a balance of power. 

Finally, we’ve been asked why we don’t include Midwest resorts in the rankings. We’d love to, but we don’t get enough responses. Midwest skiers: Vote for your resorts in the next survey, and we’ll be sure to include them.

Want to move the needle? Take the survey next spring. Got feedback? Hit us up at editor@skimag.com. Just want to go skiing? Us too. Hope to see you on the slopes this season, distanced, with face coverings, and hopefully enjoying just a bit of normalcy in this strange new world.

The Results of the 2021 Reader Resort Survey