Looking back: 25 of the best ski experiences

To mark our quarter century, editor-at-large Jonny Richards – who started contributing to the magazine as a student in the 1990s – picks his 25 favourite Fall-Line experiences

1. First Fall-Line ski meeting. Johnno (then publisher/owner) interviewed me while eating Cornflakes, in his boxers. We were at his home in North London. But with hindsight… strange! And a hint this was not your stereotypical publication.

2. Niseko by night. The most incredible ski experience I’ve had. Snow falling, no-one around, large lift-accessed area…Normally I hate anything under lights (cold, miserable, dark). But here it’s magical. And so bright you can even ski sidecountry.

Niseko: pure magic |Niseko United

Niseko: pure magic |Niseko United

3. PDS ski safari. At the height of my just-want-to-go-fast intermediate days, and brilliant fun. A two-day Portes du Soleil pinball between French and Swiss resorts – luggage by car,us by exocet skis.

4. Corbet’s couloir. I persuaded best ski-friend Zak we must go to Jackson Hole and tick it off before we hit 40. But a low snow year meant the mandatory drop was…  two-storey huge! The most adrenaline I’ve ever had on skis, by miles.

5. Northern lights. Spectacular on a trip to Riksgränsen in the Arctic Circle. Would have been even better if I’d not fallen asleep and missed the group outing to night ski/tour under them.

6. Laax Freestyle Academy. Looking back, clearly an early mid-life crisis. Freestyle? In a bright yellow jacket and neon pink helmet?! Anyway, first and probably last victorious 540°. 

7. Manchester’s Chill Factore. Salomon shop opening. Andreas Fransson and Mike Douglas thrown off the slope for being ‘not in control of their skis’! Andreas had just nailed the absurd 60° Whillans Ramp on Patagonia’s Aguja Poincenot peak, while Mike D pretty much invented freesking. Like kicking Pele off your local pitch for being crap at football.

8. Colorado gems. My favourite FL road trip (taking in six of the state’s eight small fry/gem resorts) and a reminder that the best skiing needs soul rather than a bunch of high-speed quads.

9. Lake Louise, Alberta. November. Too early for any realistic hope of decent conditions, yet it thumped it down. Deserted weekday slopes, a great guide/gazillion-starred instructor for technique tweaks. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a better ‘work’ day.

10. Linecatcher. Come to Vars, ski all the legendary Red Bull Linecatcher competition couloirs they said last winter.
No fresh snow but incredible terrain, people and possibilities.

Jonny sending it at Linecatcher. Okay, we tell a lie: it's Candide. | Dom Daher/Red Bull Content Pool

Jonny sending it at Linecatcher. Okay, we tell a lie: it’s Candide. | Dom Daher/Red Bull Content Pool

11. Yuzawa. 2007. Japan On A Shoestring feature (with £1 buying a silly amount of yen compared to now). BA courier flights (now sadly stopped) plus sub-£15 ski passes and Minshukus (guesthouses) meant nine days all-in for £650.

12. Steamboat. Early 2000s. A first taste of Colorado powder. I’d not quite say Champagne but close enough to re-align my ski compass from Europe to North America for the next decade.

13. Ski the world by bus. Loved everything about this crazy feature. Even the endless Greyhound bus research. Best leg? Easy. Banff to Jasper on the incredible Icefields Parkway.

14. BUSC, Les Arcs 1999. If only hangovers were so easy to shift these days. You really could ski the next day and not feel totally awful. Remarkable. And a happy reminder that skiing doesn’t always have to be about progression.

15. One Love. Dickie, current FL owner/publisher, is obsessed with bringing the one-piece back. Any photo shoot, he’ll be there in some absurdly expensive new 3L Gore model, or one of his God-awful ’80s throwbacks (now a little tight round the middle). Somehow, a strangely joyous sight.

16. Sheffield. Google ‘Red Run Sheffield’ (or watch it below) and feel despondent. This place single-handedly smashed the myth that Brits could never become world-class skiers (Graham/Woods/Summerhayes et al) and gave average Joes like me our formative ski memories. Then we let it wilt…

RED RUN | Abandoned Ski Village

17. Daron Rahlves. Ski Prozac. Should be prescribed to anyone out of love with the sport. The most enthusiastic, inspiring, brilliant interview. You come off the phone to America’s most successful downhill/GS racer, thinking “skiing is amazing – I must go skiing now!”

18. Pallavicini. Small but mighty, like its hugely underrated mother resort, you must ride this A-basin double. So good it inspired our long-running One Lift (for the rest of your life) section. Seven minutes up, and Colorado’s best steeps are uncorked.

19. Rambo and more. North America’s steepest cut run (55°) gets all the gaper chat, plus makes the must-do Colorado lists. But it’s the Crested Butte’s Extreme Limits area that really stays with you. In bounds, but huge and steep and incredible.

20. La Daille. Jump on Val d’Isere’s funicular, rush out at 2827m, throw on skis fast as you can, and race the railway back down. Absurdly enjoyable.

21. Season In A Month. First bell to last lift for all of last January. Nearly killed me. But ultimately hugely memorable. 21 days of powder played a big part – love you Hokkaido.

Jo

After 21 days of powder, Jonny thinks even the bus stop is his friend

22. Italy’s Sella Ronda. Everyone’s done it. Doesn’t make it any less fun. Tack on a night under the stars at Cortina’s fantastic/cheap Averau hut for the ultimate early up.

23. Corner Brook. The woman in the bar simply bellowed ‘fresh meat!’ as our group walked in. Take that Val d’Isere, Mayrhofen, Ischgl – you can’t compete with après in Newfoundland, land of very average skiing and surprisingly raucous/enjoyable drinking.

24. Powder Mountain. I went to Utah mega-excited to finally ski Park City and Snowbird. I returned thinking Pow Mountain was even better, and if I had a spare $10 million, I’d love to buy it.  A few months later a load of Utah investors did… Damn.

25. The tent. I spent so many nights in the office when editing Fall-Line, I even had an expedition tent permanently set-up in the kit room. I strangely miss it/those days. Like I said in point one, not your usual publication…

Fall-Line Skiing |
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