Expert: Hannah Teter
Claim to fame: Teter is a 2006 Olympic gold medalist in women’s half-pipe snowboarding.
“Lake Tahoe has every type of snowboarding and skiing condition, record-breaking snowfall, and seven major resorts. It’s enormous and varied, and I’ve ridden the best powder of my life one day and then had ideal park and pipe conditions the next.
“North Star is popular for families because the majority of the runs are intermediate -- you jump out of the gondola and nothing is too steep. You’ll find the big-mountain freeskiers at Squaw Valley, and Sierra-at-Tahoe’s the Gates is for advanced riders and skiers. You’ll get fresh tracks on every run on powder days. Every run. That’s impossible at most resorts, but here, there aren’t the crowds.
“When you drive into Tahoe and see the casinos first thing, you pop into Vegas for a second. But then, you’re right on the deep- blue lake, and the mountains are enormous. It’s beautiful. You can find anything you want at Lake Tahoe: casinos, cute hotels, excellent shopping, vegan restaurants, and gourmet steak houses.” Info: www.skilaketahoe.com
Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley Resort, and the Canyons Resort, Park City, Utah
Expert: Chris Waddell
Claim to fame: The most decorated male skier in Paralympic history, Waddell has won 12 medals over four Games and has spent 11 years on the U.S. Disabled Ski Team.
“The town of Park City is the hub to the area’s three major resorts, which are all among my favorites. Deer Valley has impeccable service and grooming and the best turkey chili anywhere. The Canyons has major variety: 3,700 skiable acres. There’s no way you could ski the entire resort in a week. Park City Mountain Resort has one of the best terrain parks in North America; it’s where skiers and snowboarders come to train for the big comps. Park City Mountain Resort also has a signature grooming program, where they use winch cats to groom extremely steep slopes, and when you ski them, it’s like you’re racing.
“Park City is only a half-hour drive from Salt Lake City and is a wonderful mountain escape. Think of a picturesque mining town turned mountain town with pumping dance clubs (red velvet ropes and bouncers included), authentic regional food (I love Chimayo), and, of course, shopping. During the Sundance Film Festival, Hollywood takes over, but in general, it’s really down to earth. Even though some people have one, you don’t need a private jet to fit in here.” Info: www.parkcity.com
Expert: Lindsey Vonn
Claim to fame: Vonn is the first American woman to win back-to-back World Cup championships (in 2008 and 2009), holds 22 World Cup wins in four disciplines (downhill, super G, slalom, and super combined), and is considered the most successful American woman skier in World Cup history.
“I’ve been to a lot of places in my career, and Vail is my favorite place for a winter vacation. You can spend a week at Vail without skiing the same run twice, and you have your choice of everything: groomers, powder runs, moguls, trees. There really isn’t anything you can’t do.
“Whenever I am training at Vail with the U.S. Ski Team, I manage to sneak off for a few laps in the back bowls and Blue Sky Basin. The bowls are enormous and are perfectly pitched so you can charge on a powder day. From the basin, you can see nearby 14ers [mountains that measure 14,000 feet or higher].
“Vail Village is an ideal vacation spot because you don’t need a car and there is fabulous nightlife. I don’t have one favorite bar, but you can dance late into the night seven nights a week. Vail Village looks like it came right out of Austria. There are excellent restaurants; one of my favorites is the contemporary, gourmet Larkspur Restaurant.” Info: www.vail.com