Monday, September 18, 2006
SKI magazine readers' top 10 North American ski areas
2. Deer Valley, Utah
4. Whistler/Blackcomb, B.C.
5. Park City, Utah
8. Beaver Creek
10. Sun Valley, Idaho
Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Ski Area rode the strength of its family programs back into the top 10 in SKI Magazine's poll of the top ski resorts in North America.
Steamboat, which slipped to 11th last fall, jumped to ninth this year. Vail reclaimed its perennial spot atop the SKI Magazine mountain from Deer Valley, Utah.
Steamboat claimed a consolation prize that might be as valuable as ranking first in the poll - a Larry Pierce photograph of Joe Kelly skiing some of last winter's 431 inches of powder is on the October cover of the magazine. The ski area is ranked tops in the West and second in North America in its family programs.
Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. President Chris Diamond said his company's longstanding "Kids Ski Free" and "Kids Fly Free" programs make the resort stand out in the travel industry. There are daytime and evening programs at its dedicated children's center.
Steamboat typically takes a hit in the poll because of lower marks on difficulty of terrain, ease of access and nightlife. Last year, the ski area ranked 32nd in access in spite of its nonstop flight program to Yampa Valley Regional Airport.
The ski area scores well in family programs, snow and service.
Steamboat ranked fifth in 2003.
SKI editor Greg Ditrinco said his publication's readership probably is placing as much emphasis on creature comforts as it is on the steep and deep.
SKI's affluent readers are seeking a full-service resort experience, he said. The magazine's average readers are 37 to 38 years old and ski 23 times a season.
SKI polled 6,000 readers for this year's poll. To rate a ski resort, they must have skied it within the past two years and have been a subscriber for two years. An independent polling firm asks participants to rank the ski resorts in 18 categories. They include: overall satisfaction, access, aprÃs ski, dining, family programs, grooming, lifts, lodging, off-hill activities, on-mountain food, scenery, service, snow terrain/challenge, terrain variety, terrain parks, value and weather.
Mammoth Mountain, Calif., fell out of the top 10 this year. In the East, Tremblant, in Quebec, Canada, ranked No. 1 for a record-setting 10th consecutive year.
American Skiing Co., Steamboat's parent, saw Sunday River, Maine, make its top-10 debut at No. 7. Killington, Vt. (fourth), and Sugarloaf, Maine (fifth), were the top ranking ASC resorts in the East.