FORBES – 5 Best Ski Trips For A Unique Vacation This Winter
Like much of the travel industry, skiing and snowboarding suffered mightily from the pandemic with an early end to the 2019-2020 season, and last winter severe travel and capacity restrictions hampered resorts in this country, while most of Europe’s lifts never opened at all. Even summer skiers were stymied, as the premier Southern hemisphere destinations, Chile, New Zealand and Australia, remained shut down to travelers all season long.
So, if you love skiing or snowboarding, you probably have a severe case of pent-up demand, and this winter finally promises to be something more like normal, so I for one will be hitting the slopes with a vengeance. If you are planning a trip this winter, you can do the same old same old and visit your favorite big Western resort, but if you want to spice things up, here are some hidden gems and unique twists on the ski trip genre that can open your eyes to new destinations and new experiences.
World Cup Style: I recently wrote here at Forbes about why Italy’s Dolomites is the best ski destination in the world for this winter for just about anyone, and I’m putting my money where my mouth is - I bought plane tickets two days ago. But it’s even better if you are a fan of ski racing. When I interviewed Bode Miller, I asked him where his favorite place in the world to ski was and he picked the Dolomites. He’d know because the best pro skiers in the world go here every single year for the reliable early season snow (and Europe’s best snowmaking) and great venues, especially the famous Saslong racecourse in Val Gardena, one of world’s most classic and important. First created for the 1970 Alpine World Ski Championships, the Saslong has since hosted every famous man in skiing, including Miller, who won the Super G and finished second in the Downhill, along with legends Franz Klammer. Ingemar Stenmark, A.J. Kitt and Hermann Maier. Two miles long with a stunning average grade of 24% - and as high as 57% - it drops more than 2,500 vertical feet and finishes in the center of town in Santa Cristina, one of three ultracharming villages comprising the valley of Val Gardena, one of the world’s top ski vacation destinations. The slalom and giant slalom are held on the even steeper Gran Risa trail, hitting 69%.
There are few if any better places to see a ski race, and a full complement of four World Cup races are held here every year in the week before Christmas (December 16-19, 2021). This is an awesome time to visit with everything 100% opened up for peak season but before crowds arrive. You can watch the races, enjoy Italy’s stunning cuisine, ski the biggest interconnected lift and trail network in the world, and even ski the famous racecourses themselves on the non-event days. But even if you cannot make the December races, you should still seriously consider the Dolomites, since there is no bigger ski “resort” anywhere on earth than Dolomiti Superski, multiple interconnected resorts sharing a single pass - and free if you have the popular Ikon pass. In total there is nearly 6000’ of vertical and close to 900 marked trails served by hundreds of lifts, many of them modern heated chairs, bubbles, gondolas or trams. The interconnected mountains sprawl across multiple valleys and about 50 villages, many totally ski in/out. This includes the world’s most epic single day of skiing, the Sellaronda, a loop entirely on groomed trails around one of the stunning massifs that makes the Dolomites a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the best villages for jumping on the Sellaronda are spread across the province of South Tyrol, including Val Gardena and Alta Badia. These include everything from budget to family friendly to world class luxury resorts. For more info visit South Tyrol Tourism or to book a turnkey guided ski vacation (alpine or ski touring) with an excellent local specialist, check out Dolomite Mountains.
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