Eight key ingredients create strong teaching environments: tradition, terrain, training, innovation, entrepreneurial spirit, leadership, flexibility and a sense of mission. All the schools honored on this list benefit from strong leadership. To attract exceptional staffs, a ski school director must have great credibility as a skier, as a mentor and as a professional role model. Instructors expect the director to be visible and a daily source of inspiration. Most of the schools that made our Top 10 list possess all eight traits, but two stand apart when it comes to tradition: The Ernie Blake Ski School in Taos, N.M., and the Alf Engen Ski School in Alta, Utah. Both still bear the names of the skiing visionaries who were their founders and, more important, both still carry on the standards set by those men.