After taking a look at the steep and formidable East Coast and the often overlooked Midwest, we’re traveling over to the majestic mountainous west. Perpetually a holy land for all ski bums, the spine of the rocky mountains has all the romantic allure implicit in skiing culture: the rustic lodges, gorgeous gondola rides, and awe-inspiring vertical drops and back country skiing. It’s little surprise, then, that this region boast some of the country’s top resorts for ski racing. Since we’re nerds for all things ski racing, we decided to research the top resorts for 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 on the Mountain West:
10. Copper Mountain
With 2,465 acres, Copper Mountain is a large resort with a great ski racing history. It hosted the World Cup tour in 1976 with four alpine ski races, and it recently became a training venue for the US Ski Team.
“Some place warm, a place where the beer flows like wine, where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. I’m talking about a little place called Aspen.”–Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber
Aspen Highlands is one of the most famous resorts in America, conjuring romantic lodge imagery and heavenly skiing sessions. It is famous for the Highland Bowl, which some people call the most intense skiing in the state. Aspen Highlands is steep with diverse terrain, making it an incredible adventure for ski racers.
A famous resort with a history of great racers, Winter Park is a treasure of a resort. Sitting on 3,060 skiable acres, it is a large resort, with diverse runs, and it also plays host to a very large and dedicated ski racing program.
Ever since Papa Hemingway brought attention to the town in 1939, the resort has been a prominent feature in the American ski racing scene. Sun Valley has an insane history of ski racing, and it is scheduled to host the U.S. Alpine Championships in 2016 and 2018. With good reason, too, as the resort is a naturally remarkable feat.
Big Sky Resort is one of the country’s best kept secrets. For a resort of this caliber, it’s simply amazing that it’s not overcrowded. Let’s not speak too loudly on the subject, though – let’s pray it stays a relative secret, so ski racers can have this majestic mountain to themselves!
Beaver Creek Resort, located near Avon, Colorado, is comprised of three villages: the main Beaver Creek Village, Bachelor Gulch, and Arrowhead to the west. It’s huge resort with a great ski racing program, and it is a coveted spot to spend a week skiing fresh powder.
Steamboat Ski Resort, located in Steamboat Springs, CO, has some of the most extreme terrain in the region. It’s also incredibly diverse. With a substantial history of great racers – as well as great free skiers and boarders – Steamboat is a resort that lives up to its reputation as one of the greatest in the country.
Our favorite Wyoming resort, Jackson Hole Mountain, is something you’ll want to experience if you haven’t already. It’s got one of the country’s highest vertical drops, at 4,140 ft, and it also has some of the steepest terrain. Mark Jackson Hole Mountain as a thoroughly beautiful and underrated ski racing gem.