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Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Expert: Tommy Moe
Claim to fame: An Olympic gold and silver medalist (in downhill and super G, respectively, in the 1994 Games) and a U.S. Ski Team member from 1987 to 1998, Moe now serves as a Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ambassador.

“From the valley floor (elevation 6,200 feet), you jump on the Jackson Hole tram and climb to 10,400 feet in nine minutes. It’s like being transported in a helicopter. I’ve skied all over the world, and nothing compares to Jackson’s pristine, untouched nature. In Europe, the valley floors are industrialized. Here, we have Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. We have wolves and moose and (hibernating) grizzlies!

“Jackson is a perfect place to improve your ability. A lot of people come here because they want to be challenged. And it’s a great mountain for learning to ski. The beginner area at the base of the mountain is great for kids because there are high-speed quads and good warming huts and cafeterias.

“Teton Village can be as rowdy or as relaxed as you want. There are live shows at the Mangy Moose Restaurant & Saloon. Lodging is a mix of condos; high-end hotels, like Hotel Terra, a brand-new LEED-certified green hotel; and the Hostel, the cheapest on-mountain lodging, where a shared-bunk room costs $28 each. Town is about 15 minutes away, and there’s a convenient public bus service. Jackson is an authentic western ranch town, but now it has dozens of art galleries and a local performing-arts center.” Info: www.jacksonhole.com

Aspen, Colorado

Expert: John Oates
Claim to fame: Rock legend of the duo Hall & Oates, which sold 60 million records and had 34 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, Oates moved to Aspen permanently in the late 1980s to pursue life as a ski bum.

“I don’t know of any other resort in America with four distinct mountains so close together. Literally, they’re a 10-minute drive from each other. Ajax, the original Aspen ski mountain, is the centerpiece, and it delivers steep, compact, and challenging terrain. To the west, Aspen Highlands ups the challenge level. It’s extremely intimidating if you’re not used to steeps. Buttermilk, a.k.a. the beginners’ mountain, is where most of the kids like to hang out and has one of the best terrain parks in the world. Farthest west, Snowmass is undergoing a major transformation and has the most variable terrain: gentle beginner cruising slopes to as extreme as you want and a posh base village.

“Then there’s Aspen’s culture. The people who built Aspen had a vision of it being the Athens of the mountains, and today, we don’t just have four-star restaurants -- we’ve also got culture, conferences [at the renowned Aspen Institute], and concerts with world-class musicians. The Dalai Lama comes here regularly. If you’re not a skier, you’ll still find something interesting. And if your credit card is up and running, you can find plenty of ways to spend money. We’ve got everything from haute couture to funk and thrift stores.” Info: www.aspensnowmass.com