Are American and Canadian ski resorts good enough to justify the longer journey?
OnTheSnow is comparing the two continents in order to help you decide where to book your next ski holiday.
For Europeans, skiing isn’t just a sport – it’s part of a whole day out of socialising, dining and relaxing. The ski day often finishes early in the afternoon in time for apres-ski drinks and celebrations.
On the other side of the pond, North Americans perhaps see skiing in more sporting terms and you might often hear conversations about finding untracked powder or how fast someone made a descent.
American and Canadian ski resorts
Deepest snowfall: North America wins!
American and Canadian ski resorts benefit from about double the amount of snow in a winter season compared to Europe. For example, Whistler in Canada usually sees around 10 metres whereas European resorts see around five metres.
Most extensive terrain: Europe wins!
Europe’s extensive lift-linked terrain wins hands-down. Out of the biggest ski areas in the world, Europe is home to the top 8: The Three Valleys (600km), Sella Ronda (433km), Paradiski (425km), Four Valleys (412km), Milky Way (400km), Matterhorn Glacier Paradise (360km), The Arlberg (305km) and Espace Killy (300km). The biggest ski areas in North America are Big Sky/Yellowstone Club (312km), Park City (265km) and Whistler (254km). Having said that, who is going to cover 600km in a week’s holiday? Most experts would be more than content with 2-300km.
Biggest vertical drops: Europe wins!
In terms of vertical drops, American and Canadian ski resorts are not as physically demanding or as difficult. While Revelstoke in British Columbia boasts 5620ft vertical (1712m), there are several European ski resorts that put Revelstoke’s vertical to shame: Alpe d’Huez (2224m), Les 2 Alpes (2300m) , Zermatt (2278m), Verbier (2000m) and Chamonix (2807m).
Safest skiing: North America wins!
In Europe, skiing off-piste is at your own risk. But in American and Canadian ski resorts, the designated off-piste areas are integrated into the resort. Gates into the off-piste areas are manned by ski patrol, providing a safer, more controlled freeriding experience. Also on the piste, you’ll find speed monitors are on the lookout for reckless skiers and will confiscate passes.
Modern infrastructure: North America wins!
Organisation across the pond is way ahead of us in Europe. Lift queues are shorter or non-existent and ski concierges are available to carry skis. Lift attendants are very attentive and help families mount and unmount lifts.
Eating on the mountain: North America wins!
In terms of value for money, North America offers good family favourites without breaking the bank
Lift ticket prices: Europe wins!
Skiing in North America can be extremely expensive. The cost of skiing varies depending on the resort, but ski lift tickets in North America can cost as much as $200 for half a day.