European Getaways

From the Top
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Is this the year you finally take that European ski vacation? If you do, there will be times on the long, international flight when you'll wish you'd done what you usually do on a ski vacation: booked a short jaunt to Mt. Anywhere in the West. As you struggle to read the foreign map and road signs while winding your way through the Alps en route to your destination, you may wish you were traveling the well-worn interstate to Mt. Familiar. When you settle into your charming, historic, yet by American's standards, tinyhotel room, your thoughts may drift back to memories of that huge, ski-in/ski-out three-bedroom condo at Mt. Five-Star. And when you realize that you'll be taking your shower while seated in a bathtub, well...I don't really want to speculate on what you'll be thinking.

Once you're up on the mountain-as you begin to grasp the fact that it hasn't snowed much this season in Europe-you also may get teary eyed in reflecting on the millions of gallons of frozen water they're spraying on the hill back at Groomer Peaks.

Well, you'll get over it. And believe me, at the end of your European ski vacation, what you will remember is the ski terrain that goes on forever, from one village to the next, even one country to the next. You'll remember the on-mountain chalets that have no equal in North America, and a hospitality that comes from the heart, not a training manual. You will witness new levels of après-ski festivities (and pre-ski partying, for that matter) that may shock you. And you'll revel in the traditions of a place where skiing is a way of life, not just an activity.

This issue includes everything you'll need to start planning your trip. Our European Getaways package, beginning on page 151, profiles three city and nearby resort destinations in Switzerland, Italy and Austria. And if you're worried about looking like a dumb American on foreign snow, seek solace in Warren Miller's column on page 87, "The Governor & The Egg." (Thanks also to Warren for providing the inspiration for the fictitious resort names above.)

Seniors are the backbone of the sport of skiing. They are living testimony that this is indeed the greatest family sport in the world, an activity that can be enjoyed through our later years. In this issue, we explore senior skiing in three stories: In Forum, our monthly point/counterpoint column on page 58, we tackle the question "Should Seniors Ski Free?" On page 72, columnist John Fry, who was taught to ski by none other than the legendary Jackrabbit Johanssen, celebrates the benefits of late-life skiing. And, in our Healthy Skier department on page 204, SKI Instruction Director Stu Campbell passes on tips that will improve the performance of seniors-skiers who, more likely than not, are wise enough to have already skied Europe.