Destination: Banff, Canada

The unbelievable beauty and challenging slopes of Banff, Canada attract skiers and snowboarders of all levels. Banff National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and contains three separate ski areas: Mt. Norquay, Sunshine Village, and Lake Louise Ski Resort. Together, these three ski resorts are known as Big3. A total of 356 runs between the three resorts. The Banff 3 Area ski pass provides guests lift and ski-bus access to the Big3’s slopes. Each resort has its own character and unique attractions. 


Mt. Norquay 

Mt. Norquay is the smallest ski resort of the Big3. The resort’s 190 acre ski area is a playground for experienced skiers and snowboarders, with almost half its runs best-suited for expert skiers. Mt. Norquay is even used for Olympic and World Cup ski training. This resort is a favorite among locals. Go during the week to avoid crowds. Prepare to be exhausted by the rigorous runs, and plan for a day or two here at most.


Sunshine Village 

Sunshine Village is the Big3’s mid-sized ski resort. Its approximately 3,500 acre ski area is known for its amazing snowfall. In comparison to Lake Louise Ski Resort, especially, Sunshine Village is considered a day-visitor ski area. Mount Standish has excellent beginner slopes. Expert skiers and snowboarders all over the world come to Banff to try Delirium Dive, a particularly spectacular experts-only run on the northern slope of Lookout Mountain. 


Lake Louise Ski Resort

Lake Louise Ski Resort is the largest of the Big3. The 4200 acre ski area promises good snow and amazing views. Lake Louise Ski Resort has a wide range of beginner, intermediate, and expert slopes because it is the largest resort of the Big3. The resort also boasts the largest terrain park in North America, as well as a robust children’s area and childcare facilities at a day-lodge. 

Destination: Alpbach, Austria

Alpbach is a ski resort village that neighbors the Wildschönau Valley. Alpbach has been voted Austria’s most beautiful village, and offers picturesque views with a kind of storybook charm. Guests will be delighted with Alpbach’s perfect balance of fanciful older buildings outfitted with totally modern facilities. 

Alpbach’s ski range is connected to the Auffach ski range. In 2012, the entire region was dubbed the Alpbachtal-Wildschönau “Ski Juwel,” and it boasts 145 km of pistes for a singular lift pass. This pass also includes the resorts of Niederau and Oberau in the Wildschönau region, and Reith im Alpbachtal. 

This resort is a solid choice for beginner skiers and snowboarders, and it offers a range of challenges for more intermediate skiers and snowboarders. However, all the village-level slopes at Alpbach are for beginners, which can be frustrating for more experienced skiers and snowboarders who like to end with an exhilarating run. Expert skiers can hire a guide for off-piste and backcountry exploration. Alpbach might not be the first choice for expert skiers with a proclivity for off-piste runs, but that means the available backcountry terrain is largely untouched. This Austrian village really offers something for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. 

The resort’s ice rink and indoor swimming pool offer off-mountain fun. Guests can also partake in low-intensity hikes and walks with jaw-dropping scenery. Alpbach offers horse-drawn sleigh rides for those who want to take in the stunning views while completely relaxed. Après ski can begin as early as mid-afternoon and usually ends in the early evening in this region. Guests can ski right up to Joe’s Salettl and the Umbrella Six Pub after their last run, and begin the après ski debauchery. Alpbach does not have a strong nightlife focus, but a few establishments will have live music.

Form: Ski Lessons for Women

Say you’re a beginning skier. Or a more seasoned one who wants to brush up on her technique. Or even a skilled hottie who eats, breathes, and sleeps skiing.

No matter where you fall in this spectrum, a ski camp has something to offer you. While such gatherings used to be mostly male affairs, rife with show-off contests and boasts of heroic spills, women’s camps are quietly stealing all that thunder. Women who would never have felt comfortable in the old environment now have their choice of ski camps that cater specifically to them. About half the resorts in the country now offer women’s ski programs.


The Second Sex No More

First, a little history. Women long struggled with skiing because our bodies were not well suited for the techniques and equipment developed and used by men. The difference between the sexes in performance on the slopes was dismissed as women’s “natural” lack of strength, skill, and courage.

When women sought to improve their skiing experience, lessons only furthered the male paradigm. To wit: Struggle into some ill-fitting (male) equipment, listen to the (male) instructor, and watch the (male) classmates burn up the slopes. No wonder many women preferred to sip hot chocolate on the sidelines.

Today we understand that physiological differences between men and women accounted for most of those female “difficulties.” The Q angle (the angle from our hips to our knees), center of mass, length of bones, foot shape and boot fit, weight, and strength are all different in men and women — and all are critical factors that impact ski performance. But until recently, manufacturers considered only men’s measurements when building equipment. That left women to flounder in ill-suited gear, all the while wondering why the simplest of turns wouldn’t turn out as the instructor barked. Today, gear designed specifically for women has brought us to a level playing field.

Attitudes regarding women’s abilities have also evolved, resulting in a more pleasurable learning experience. Today we have our own successful female athletes to serve as teachers and role models. We have equipment built specifically for our bodies. And camps that cater only to women provide a holistic approach to skiing, incorporating support and a spiritual side.


Why Separate Can Be Better

Women-only clinics might sound too precious for some, but trust me, I’m not talking teatime here. There are many benefits to the single-sex environment. Women are typically less self-conscious when men are absent. That means those women are able to focus their energy on improving their technique, without being afraid to try and fail in the process.

That’s especially important because women tend to have a different style of learning. Women generally prefer detailed instruction, support, and encouragement. (With a nod to stereotypes, men, on the other hand, often prefer less instruction and regard to technique — the “let me barrel down the mountain and figure it out” approach to learning. Many men are happy if they’re going fast, style points be damned.) Women tend to relish technique and the finer points of the sport. This makes women eager and attentive students.

When women are surrounded by other women, intimidation is replaced by support and encouragement. In this environment, it is easier to express and confront self-doubt and fear. We help each other build the confidence we need to attack the slopes.

Women are also motivated by other women. When we watch a woman rip a line at high speed, gracefully attacking the hill with perfect technique, we’re inspired. We realize our vast potential as women and cease judging ourselves unrealistically by men’s standards.

It all adds up to a more holistic approach to sports. Our well-developed gift of gab allows us to learn from each other on a variety of levels. Women open themselves up, break down barriers, and strengthen themselves by what they’ve learned.

So if you’re interested in polishing your curves, consider checking out a class or camp designed just for women. Contact the ski resort of your choice. Chances are it will have a schedule of offerings or be able to direct you to a camp in the area.

Form: Skiing as a Woman

This is not about male bashing. There are differences between the way men and women approach a learning situation, especially one that involves some risk, whether real or perceived. We are different and in women’s programs we celebrate those differences and use them to our advantage.


For example, women tend to be supportive of each other when faced with a challenge where men tend to be more competitive with each other. Neither approach is good or bad. Each has its advantages. It’s just different. We use that mutual support to enhance our teaching and to help women approach new challenges. Women have less muscle mass than men, so we find that women use skill more than strength to accomplish their goals. They have to.


Of course, most women tend to approach risk with more caution. We acknowledge this and work with it rather than try to convince women that there is no reason to worry. We build confidence in stages rather than throw ourselves over the edge. These are all generalizations, but I have found over the years that these generalizations have been formed for a reason. That’s why these women’s programs have been so successful. Many resorts have women’s programs now so they have become an accepted part of the business here in the States. They are cropping up in all kinds of sports now. We understand each other and that is why we learn from each other.

Destination: Vail, Colorado

Since opening in 1962, Vail Ski Resort has grown to be the third-largest single mountain ski resort in the United States, coming in just after Big Sky and Park City. Offering incredible views, world-class skiing, and extremely varied terrain, this is one of the most beautiful places to ski in the United States. Founded by Pete Seibert, construction began in what was then an uninhabited valley, opening just six months later in December of 1962. The quaint, beautiful town of Vail sprung up at the resort’s base, serving as the best respite from mountain fun skiers could imagine.


Vail quickly grew to become a popular ski resort; in the 1970s, President Gerald Ford and family vacationed at their Vail home, bringing the ski area international exposure. Soon after, Vail grew into a super-resort. Visitors were eager to pay European trip prices for a Colorado vacation. Vail Village was later expanded, and in 1970, Denver was awarded the 1976 Winter Olympics; Vail was selected to host the skiing competitions. Though Colorado voters denied funding and the games were relocated to Austria, the brief stint in the Olympic spotlight brought Vail to the attention of more European travelers.


Vail Ski Resort has a base elevation of 8,120 feet and a summit height of 11,570 feet, creating a formidable 3,450 vertical drop. It provides 5,289 skiable acres, 193 trails, and an average annual snowfall of 370 inches. Their longest run is four miles, and the resort offers three terrain parks, ten bowls, and thirty-one lifts. The resort is truly the centerpiece of the area—though several other ski resorts have sprung up around it, Vail and Vail Village continue to attract the majority of visitors. However, information on other Colorado resorts and lift tickets is widely available, so we encourage you to conduct price comparisons before booking your trip.


Vail is interesting for both its industry in history; not many ski resorts catalyze the formation of an entire village. This sequence, however, was undoubtedly for the best; Vail Village is a stunning display of Nordic-inspired buildings set against the backdrop of the resort. While Vail Ski Resort is a beautiful place to ski, Vail Village is a beautiful place to stay.


Gear: Billy Goat 2019 from ON3P

Now in their 7th iteration, the Billy Goat Skis from ON3P are some of the most beautiful equipment currently available. Built for stability, power, and maneuverability in soft snow, they provide a stiff flex profile and a refined design to substantially improve hardpack performance. The Billy Goat Skis are great for big mountain and powder skiing, offering a partial twin tip and a rocker/camber/rocker configuration. Versatile, sleek, and long, these expert skis are built to last.


Three iterations ago, ON3P introduced its Reverse Elliptical Sidecut: a convex, elliptical arc from the tip to the boot sole, adding a traditional sidecut to the tail. The goal of this configuration is to improve the experience on hardpack to provide additional versatility for both freeride and big mountain skiers. The freeride rocker adds to this maneuverability, and the flex provides a solid underfoot platform, a stiffer tail, and a progressive tip.


The Billy Goat Skis are made with an FSC-certified, vertically laminated, 100% bamboo core. This choice is deliberate; bamboo facilitates optimal responsiveness, making for quick turn initiation. A carbon fiber laminate provides strength and stiffness, and the tri-axial fiberglass ensures proper edge hold, power transfer, and a sleek, glossy design. These skis also have an extra wide binding mat and vibration dampening strips for improved bonding strength.


These skis are reliable and perfect for a variety of conditions and skiers. They are available in three sizes: 179, 184, and 189. Additionally, the contrast between the deep, navy blue background and bright, orange landscape depicted on the topsheet is easy on the eyes. You’re bound to turn heads in these skis.


Form: Turns

Skiing is a beautiful sport to watch. Smooth, elegant turns comprise much of a skier’s journey down the mountain, making a graceful and quick descent. All skiers, regardless of ability, can benefit from working on their turns. In this feature, we’re going to discuss the most popular and essential turns skiers can make: the Snowplough turn, the parallel turn, and the carve turn. First-time skiers will be most familiar with the Snowplough, which—despite its rudimentary appearance—can be made smooth and graceful with just a bit of confidence. See below for our descriptions and directions.


The Snowplough—The Snowplough, also known as the wedge turn or the pizza slice, is a beginner turning technique. To make this turn, the front ski tips are close together, and the tails are wide apart. The knees roll inwards slightly, creating a triangle. Speed is reduced by applying pressure against the snow with the inside edges of the skis. To turn, weight is shifted from the downhill (outside of the turn) ski to the uphill (inside of the turn) ski. Slight pressure is enough to make the skis change direction, and the stability afforded by the triangle shape creates maximum control.


Parallel Turn—The parallel turn is a method of turning in which the skis roll to one edge, allowing the edge to travel in an arc. This is the most fluid turning method, as it requires very little movement to form a graceful curve. Parallel turns occur when the skier is traveling downhill with both tips pointed in the same direction. Parallel turns generate less friction than others and are perfect for maintaining speed and minimizing effort. This style is often taught to novice skiers as a way to introduce the idea of weighting and unweighting skis, which is useful in a variety of advanced and expert techniques.


Carved Turn—Similar to parallel turns, a carved turn requires slightly more effort on the part of the skier. In this turn, the ski shifts to one side or the other, using the edge to carve into the snow. This turn occurs when both skis are parallel and pointed downhill. The skier places pressure on the uphill ski, rolling slightly onto the edges of both skis. This pressure is the only action necessary to create the turn, as the ski will naturally follow the arc shape to produce a turning motion. This type of turn is very efficient, allowing skiers to maintain speed without sacrificing stability.


Destination: Megève, France

Founded in the 1920s by Baroness Noémie de Rothschild, this stunning resort village is one of the prettiest in all of Europe. It offers close-up views of Mont Blanc—western Europe’s highest peak (4,810 meters)—and was one of the first purpose-built resorts in the Alps. The original resort was created within a medieval town at the base of the famous mountain. Within a few decades of its opening, the resort grew to be so popular that Jean Cocteau unofficially renamed it the, “21st arrondissement de Paris.”


Megève has roots in aristocracy; its first guests were wealthy Frenchmen, and it remains one of the most famous and fancy ski resorts in the world. The resort has expanded since its inception, but the town has retained several historical buildings—farmhouses, churches, and even the cobblestone streets. Visitors can visit any of the numerous high-end boutiques and Michelin-starred restaurants at any tie of the year.


For all its glitz and glamour, Megève is—first and foremost—a ski town. The Alpine skiing area offers 8 square kilometers of skiable terrain, which is accessible by one of the 116 available lifts. There are 217 runs—445 kilometers of skiing. 33 trails are black diamonds (hardest), 84 are ungroomed reds, 63 are intermediate blues, and 378 are beginner/easy greens. There are 67 platter lifts, 35 chairlifts, and 13 gondola lifts, as well as a cable car. The Domaine Évasion Mont-Blanc, Megève’s Alpine skiing area, also boasts 18 cross-country trails totaling around 100 kilometers.


Megève is a popular destination at any time of year. The resort is renowned for its golfing opportunities. Additionally, the town served as the finishing town for stage 18 and the start town for stage 20 of the 2016 Tour de France. If you have the opportunity to visit this spectacular village, we highly recommend it. Not convinced? Do an image search of that view—we’re sure it will change your mind.

Gear: Meridian 107 from Moment Skis

The Meridian 107 incorporates a non-symmetrical tips, a stunning topsheet, and non-symmetrical tails; if you own this ski, it is sure to start a conversation. The Moment ski Meridian lineup provides well-rounded skis perfect for powder, crud, and cashmere rather than pushing a powder-specific full rocker design. The Meridian 107 can handle groomers, old snow, and fresh powder, but really shines in untracked snow.


The Meridian 107 has an aspen/ash wood core made of full length, knot-free, and in-house laminated material. All wood is sourced in the USA. The ski also offers a UHMW Sidewall—the strongest and most durable on the market, allowing you to have the best edge hold available. Skiers who use the Merdian 107 will experience smooth turn initiation and hold stable at incredibly high speeds, making this one of the most beautiful and functional skis on the market.


The ski itself is composed of a custom blend of triaxial fiberglass and carbon fiber, providing a torsional rigidity. It sports the 4001 Durasurf base, which is one of the most durable on the market. This ski is stable, fast, and lightweight, making it the perfect choice for nearly any ski terrain and condition.


Plus, just look at it. The non-symmetrical tips and tails work against the marbled graphic design on the topsheet, creating an optical illusion. The full rocker design adds additional angles and curves to the skis, resulting in a truly one-of-a-kind design.

Form: Ski Stance

Beginners and experts alike can benefit from analyzing and adjusting their ski stance. Your stance provides the movement and flexibility necessary to perform all skiing-related actions—from turns and tricks to simply starting and stopping. As a result, elements of the skiing stance can be applied to any number of maneuvers, thus improving your overall form.


First and foremost: the ski stance is not a static position. Skiing necessitates movement, so your stance must adapt to the action you are performing. Therefore, the stance is variable, shifting as you change direction, speed, and slope angle. A good stance should be able to absorb bumps through the legs and allow the body to flex, meaning the knees and other joints must be bend. Your stance should also allow your skis to assume the correct position. You should be able to both conserve energy and remain comfortable while in the stance for extended periods of time.


The straight stance occurs when your skis are angled downhill and you are looking ahead, traveling straight down the slope. The skis should be parallel, hip width apart, and your knees should bend to absorb bumps. The body should lean slightly forward, putting most of the weight over the middle of the skis. The arms should be out to your sides, slightly in front and with elbows slightly bent. As the gradient of the slope increases and decreases, you will need to lean forward or backward to retain your center of gravity.


A traversing stance occurs when you are going across the slope. Your body will lean into the mountain to combat gravity. In this position, the uphill leg is bent more to compensate for the angle of the slope. The upper body should twist slightly toward the fall line, or the imaginary line in the steepest direction of the slope. Both knees should bend to absorb bumps.


The leaning stance is very similar to the traversing stance; the same principles apply, but the situation changes. While the traversing stance is used to travel across the mountain, the leaning stance is necessary when making tight, slalom-like turns while heading down the mountain. It combines elements of the straight and traversing stance; the upper body and hips are placed over the middle of the skis, but the body shifts to the left and right. The center of gravity moves away from the force created by turns. The body twists slightly to the side, allowing the skier to retain balance.