Where the Five Species of Skiers Should Migrate this Spring
BY: Ryan Stuart ILLUSTRATIONS: Agata Piskunowicz
Scientists divide the Earth’s 8.7 million species of life into five kingdoms. Using statistical regression and advanced gene sequencing, we’ve done the same with Canada’s 2.5 million skiers. Here’s our field guide to the five kingdoms of skiers and where they should migrate this spring.
LATIN NAME: Dinkus maximus
DESCRIPTION: Male and female sport similar markings, often same brand, distinct from other pairs. Coats and equipment are luxurious and expensive. Enjoys shopping and splurging on experiences. Nests at most exclusive hotel in area.
CALL: “Where should we go for dinner after our couple’s spa treatment?”
PRIME MIGRATION DESTINATION: Home to the Winter X-Games, four ski hills, the most expensive real estate in North America and a long list of celebrities and billionaires, Aspen provides enough experiences in a day to feed conversations for a year. Start at the Little Nell, Aspen’s only five-star and five-diamond hotel, right at the base of Aspen ski hill and in the heart of the historic downtown. It’s like an art museum, jazz club, trendy restaurant and luxury villa rolled into one. Aspen’s the obvious choice for turns, but each area has its own personality. Get the inside knowledge with former extreme skier Chris Davenport, who leads private tours around the mountains. The hotel’s concierge can also hook up snowcat driving lessons. Off the snow, check out the Aspen Art Museum, browse the shops of downtown, and experience live music at the Wheeler Opera House. Or stay in, visit the spa, eat at element 47 and wind down the night at the JAS Café series, the jazz program held inside the hotel. aspensnowmass.com
Sun Valley – another playground of the rich and famous with immaculate grooming and tonnes of sun.sunvalley.com
Park City – the home of the Sundance Film Festival, the U.S. Olympic team and Utah powder.parkcitymountain.com
Yellowstone Club – negotiate an invite to this members-only Montana resort and then hire legendary extreme skier Scot Schmidt to show you around. yellowstoneclub.com
LATIN NAME: Viagra erectus
DESCRIPTION: Plumage includes all the top picks from this year’s buyer’s guide. Frequents any racecourse but prefers GS style, and gathers in packs of other Masters Racers. At some point in winter will migrate to a heli-ski lodge for a week. Frequently roosts with an expensive scotch in hand.
CALL: “My time would have been faster but my tuner used the wrong wax.” Sometimes seen yelling into Bluetooth-equipped glove.
PRIME MIGRATION DESTINATION: Whistler Blackcomb: The resort’s world-class reputation extends beyond the hype. For proof, look to the home-grown talent, including Rob Boyd, Ashleigh McIvor, Davey Barr and a host of others. So, what better way to experience one of the great ski resorts than by following one of its great products? That’s the idea behind Whistler Blackcomb’s ski or ride with an Olympian program, which matches Whistler Olympians with visitors for a day of skiing. Imagine carving down the Dave Murray Downhill in Boyd’s literal tracks, or working on banked corners with McIvor. Whether by osmosis, copying or direct coaching, the experience is sure to pay off with faster, smoother arcs and a hell of a story back home. whistlerblackcomb.com
Big White – when she’s in town, team up with ski cross champ and hometown girl Kelsey Serwa.bigwhite.com
Mont-Sainte-Anne – former national team members JP Roy and Patrick Biggs lead a three-day race training program in April. olympianskiracing.com
Beaver Creek – test yourself against the hardest course on the World Cup circuit, Birds of Prey.beavercreek.com
BIG MOUNTAIN RIPPER
LATIN NAME: Straightline neanderthal
DESCRIPTION: Both sexes sport a single GoPro antler, year-round mask of goggle tan, eyes hidden behind oversized sunglasses, on-trend and coordinated outerwear and fat skis even on groomer day. Off slope, male is identifiable by soul patch of facial hair, female by hair stuffed in a ball cap or tied back in ponytail, possibly revealing Celtic tattoo on neck.
CALL: “Duuuude! That was soooo sick!”
PRIME MIGRATION DESTINATION: Some want quantity, others quality. At Revelstoke Mountain Resort there’s no need to choose, with at least nine metres of snow every winter and a North-Americaleading 1,713 metres of vertical. Ride the Stoke quad to the sub-peak and then hike to the summit of Mt. Mackenzie. From there, the options spill off in all directions. Drop into the North Bowl on the same face used in extreme skiing comps. Pin it down the front side and feel the burn of a kilometre of turns, or tour into the backcountry for guaranteed untracked. There’s also cat and heli-skiing available right out of the ski area’s base. To supplement POV footage, download Paparazzi Pass onto a smartphone. The app pairs with remote cameras that catch action shots, including a cliff stomp in North Bowl. Off the mountain, rip up to Rogers Pass for a classic ski tour, like the Tupper Traverse, and sample the creations of Mt. Begbie Brewery, the local micro. revelstokemountainresort.com
Banff – Sunshine’s Delirium Dive and Lake Louise’s Back Bowls protect some of the best fall line skiing in the country. skibig3.com
Jackson Hole – for legendary steeps and some of the raddest rippers around. jacksonhole.com
Bridger Bowl – hike the ridge terrain to the steepest inbounds runs in North America. bridgerbowl.com
LATIN NAME: Filiafamilias
DESCRIPTION: Lives in packs made up of alpha pair and offspring, sometimes joined by outside BFFs and significant others. Comes in all shapes and sizes, though packs have steadily shrunk for unknown, possibly global-warming-related reasons. Frequents all parts of the mountain, gathering at cafeterias and buffet lines at precisely noon.
CALL: “The family that skis together stays together!”
PRIME MIGRATION DESTINATION: Sideshows should by definition be a bonus, not the main event. However, heading to Vermont’s Jay Peak with the family in tow, it’s hard not to get excited about the waterpark. Right at the base of the snowiest ski hill in the east, the wave pool, slides, climbing wall and surfing wave sit under a windowed dome, like a piece of the tropics imported to the Canadian border. It’s one of many signs that Jay’s got something for everyone. The highest peak in the area, Jay sucks about 950 centimetres of snow out of the northern Vermont sky, laying it down on a mix of steeps, glades, fun intermediate runs, an improved beginner area and a progression of four terrain parks. And when the day’s done, the base area contains everything one could ask for in a ski holiday. Along with the waterpark, there’s an NHL-sized ice rink, a Nordic area, and a spa. Within walking distance are shops, restaurants and bars. Take them all together, and Jay never feels like a compromise. jaypeakresort.com
Smugglers Notch – for innovative, flexible and inclusive family ski programs smuggs.com
Marmot Basin – the whole family can ski together off almost every lift. skimarmot.com
Sun Peaks – Canada’s second-largest resort offers a busy village with all kinds of après fun.sunpeaksresort.com
LATIN NAME: Homo humbilis
DESCRIPTION: Plumage includes a one-piece ski suit bought used in 1988, rear entry boots, newer skis bought at a ski swap for cheap and work gloves. Often sports patches of duct tape. Frequently spotted hitchhiking to and from the mountain. Always friendly. One of few species that will ski in all types of weather. Often inhabits way fancier house than you expect and skis way better than you.
CALL: “When I was 20…” or “Anyone want a toke?”
PRIME MIGRATION DESTINATION: The soul of skiing is found in the Kootenays. It’s not about heated lifts or fancy restaurants, rubbing shoulders with the glitterati or keeping up with the Joneses. You won’t find much of that here, thank God. The skier’s resorts of Red Mountain, Whitewater and Fernie are home to Kootenay smoke, some of the lightest snow around, and the perfectly steeped tree skiing to complement it. A good day skiing here is picking up a hitchhiking local who then offers to show you around. It’s lap after lap of powder, an on-the-move granola bar lunch and then catching the last chair for one more untracked whooping. Afterward, you might join some new buds for suds at the local watering hole, like Rossland’s Flying Steamshovel (where you play a game of neglin) or bingo night at Fernie’s Northern Bar and Stage. And then it’s on to wherever it’s snowing. In the Kootenays, that’s never far away. redresort.com, skiwhitewater.com, skifernie.com
Hudson Bay Mountain and Shames – Northern B.C. charm naturally translates to guiding out-of- towners to abundant resort and backcountry stashes.hudsonbaymountain.com, mymountaincoop.ca
Mount Baker – slightly scary lifts, no snowmaking and massive dumps scare away the punters.mtbaker.us
Mount Cain – off the grid, boundary-to-boundary tree skiing, and easy access backcountry make up for the two-T-bar-lift network. mountcain.com