There are plenty of ski fields in the US, each with its own traditions and customs for visitors to enjoy. Here are some to look out for.
The front row of the parking area at Arapahoe Basin has affectionately been called The Beach since the late 1980s. It’s essentially one giant apres ski party with barbecues, bikinis, shotskis, guitars, singing and dancing. Spring is the busiest time as the resort is one of the last to close, so it attracts lots of skiers looking for that final run and a party.
Sugarloaf’s reggae fest turns 30 next year. Held in April each year, it’s a four-day jam of spring skiing and performances by reggae bands on multiple stages around the ski area’s base. Hundreds of skiers gather to sway in ski boots on the makeshift outdoor dance floor.
A ritual each March since 1974, the Al Johnson Memorial Race involves hundreds of skiers in costumes skinning up, then skiing down the resort’s steeply-rugged North Face. Named after a 19th-century mail carrier who, using an original telemark setup, skiied between the area’s mining villages, the historic and hilarious event is now a fundraiser for the Crested Butte Avalanche Center.
The Killington’s Bear Mountain Mogul Challenge is now in its 34th year. The event is only open to amateurs, who are judged on their turns, airs and speed, just like a traditional mogul contest. Typically held on Outer Limits — a steep, liftline bump run — the event draws costumed revellers to watch and party while a DJ and fire dancers entertain.
On closing day at Alta, locals throw an unsanctioned party called High Boy. They don costumes and wigs, then gather en masse at the peak atop High Rustler toting hula hoops and backpacks full of beers. Once the lifts close down, they rally down the steep chutes for one final run of the year.
If you’d rather stay close to home, here’s why you should take a ski holiday in Australia.