While it’s not the haven of powder that is the Mountain West nor the icy training grounds of the East Coast, the Midwest has its store of great ski resorts. Not only for terrain parks, either. The Midwest actually happens to be an amazing place for a ski racer to grow up. In fact, some top talent has risen from Midwest ski resorts, including Lindsey Vonn from Buck Hill. We decided to research the top Midwest resorts for ski racers. In doing so, we surveyed racers and coaches, compared trail maps, and analyzed mountain statistics. Factors that went into ranking include steepness, height, length, diversity of terrain, popularity, conditions, and grooming. Without further ado, here are the top 10 best ski racing resorts in the Midwest:
10. Welch Village
9. Ski Brule
Again, Ski Brule throws me back to my youth. I raced there at about age 9, and I remember the timer stopped working, so we all stood waiting and shivering in our GS suits until it started working again. Still, I have good feeling about this resort. It’s got fantastic snow, spirit, height, length, and variety. Though it is not the steepest resort around, it more than makes up for it with its other winning factors. Ski Brule, located near Iron River, Michigan, is well deserving of a #9 ranking.
8. Indian Head Mountain
7. Mt. LaCrosse
Outside of La Crosse, in Stoddard, WI, sits the epic Mt. LaCrosse. There’s a reason the State Ski Racing Championship is hosted here. With both length and steepness, Mt. LaCrosse is an excellent training ground for both slalom and GS, providing enough space and challenge to racers of all stripes.
6. Granite Peak
Granite Peak (Wausau, WI), home of the Badger State Games, is one of the larger resorts in the Midwest. Anyone who has skied Granite Peak know the hill starts with an epic drop and degrades into less steep incline pretty quickly. Though it doesn’t sustain its steepness, the length of the runs and the variety of terrain make Granite Peak (or Rib Mountain for old timers) our #6 pick.
5. Boyne Highlands
Boyne Highlands, located Harbor Springs, MI, is a beautiful all-season resort. It’s an especially epic resort for ski racers. First, it’s a tall hill. Next, it features the State’s longest ski run and a diverse array of terrain. Finally, the resort puts strong support into their ski racing program, which produces a class of phenomenal young racers.
Chestnut Mountain (Galena, IL), my home hill, of course has a special place in my heart. But it’s also a fun and consistent hill for ski racing. Though average in run length, there are a few runs that are perfectly suited and groomed or racing-Apache, Blackhawk, and Crazy Horse come to mind. Warpath is also an adrenaline pumping treat for risk takers. It will leave you wondering how other resorts can have the gall to call their runs double diamonds. Racers also get a tremendous view of the Mississippi river while they cruise down the course.
Nub’s Nob (Harbor Springs, MI) is one of the steeper Midwest resorts. It’s also one of the best for ski racers. It provides adequately challenging and diverse terrain, with enough space to pick up speed. It’s grooming is top notch, and it’s actually one of the top rated resorts for snow in the Midwest. Well deserving of a #3 ranking.
Marquette Mountain, located in Marquette, MI, is excellent for ski racing. Rocket and Cliff’s ridge are at the very top of race runs. There’s a reason the JO qualifier is held at Marquette. Marquette Mountain hits perfect scores for almost every one of our ranking criteria, and because of that, lands at #2 on our list.