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White Lines: North American Ski Resorts

For those in search of perfect North American powder, look no farther than these 10 ski resorts
Larry Olmsted
From the Print Edition:
Vince McMahon, Nov/Dec 99

(continued from page 5)

Deer Valley enjoys a reputation as the nation's most upscale ski area, with a knowledgeable staff, fine dining and high-end lodging. What is less well known is its excellent skiing, including new back bowls that offer expert skiers steep, rocky chutes. Deer Valley even prints an experts-only trail map, including some terrain excluded from the regular map. These sort of little touches--like the free driers in booths at the top of the lifts where cold skiers can dry hats and gloves between runs--permeate the resort. If there is a mountain for every skier, it is Deer Valley. The grooming is superb, and beginners and intermediates can enjoy their skiing secure in the knowledge that unexpected ice or ruts will not be encountered. Snowboarding is not allowed.  

The 3,300-acre Canyons, Utah's newest resort, has six front-to-back peaks, and most of the trails run laterally off steep ridge lines, resulting in sheltered trails that retain lots of powder. Once you choose an area, you can ride the same lift over and over, taking different adjacent trails on each run. The heart of the expert section, for example, has seven parallel double-black diamond runs off one side and an equal complement of single blacks on the other--a full day of skiing from one lift.  

Planning a trip: Park City is 40 minutes from Salt Lake. Most large hotels in Salt Lake offer shuttles, so some visitors stay in town and commute to the slopes. Park City offers a ski-town experience with a wide selection of lodging, dining and shopping.    

9 SUNDAY RIVER, MAINE  

The mountains of the East are smaller than their western brethren and do not get as much snow. To make up for Mother Nature's shortcomings, Sunday River uses the most extensive snow-making system in the Northeast, guaranteeing what are usually the East's best conditions. Slightly farther off the radar screens of skiers from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut than the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire, Sunday River offers something those mountains cannot: uncrowded slopes and short lift lines.  

Sunday River is a sprawling resort, set along eight adjacent peaks, and boasts the best glade skiing in the east, with an entire peak, Oz, devoted to trees. Beginner and intermediate skiers will feel at home on the many wide-open slopes and the long cruisers from top to bottom, while experts will ski Oz or head to White Heat, the longest, steepest mogul run east of the Mississippi.  

Planning a trip: Non-skiing amenities are still in their infancy here, offering limited options for lodging and dining, but lots of condos are available. The closest airports are Portland, Maine, just over an hour away, and Boston, three hours away.    

10 SUGARBUSH, VERMONT  

Old meets new at a resort that captures the spirit of early New England skiing, while providing state-of-the-art, high-speed quad lifts and man-made snow-making operations. Sugarbush has the best natural terrain in the state, and packs a lot of skiing onto a small mountain. The resort consists of two distinct mountains, once called North and South, but now known as Mt. Ellen and Lincoln Peak. Skiers used to have to choose between the two, but a chairlift now links them. Still, most advanced skiers rarely leave Lincoln Peak.  

Castle Rock is the upper face of Lincoln Peak, a mountain within a mountain. This area is frozen in time, accessed by a barely moving double chair and blanketed by ungroomed and all-natural snow. Many Vermont curmudgeons believe that science spoils skiing, and at least at Castle Rock, they have persevered. The trails here are steep, narrow and twisting, and definitely for better skiers.


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