Why good ski resorts are like old friends

Fall-Line Editor Nicola Iseard ponders the power of a good ski resort

It was never going to be an easy question to answer. Asking a pro skier or photographer to pick their favourite ski resort (for our 2016-17 resort guide in the current issue), when the very act of riding so many varied places, countries, continents is what defines their work. It is liking asking a chef to name their favourite dish. Or a guitarist to choose their favourite riff. “Nicola, you are making this hard for me,” declared snapper Brent Benson.

Though, not everyone found it so difficult. Barely had my email to Pat Sharples, ex pro skier and GB park and pipe head coach, left my outbox before he replied with: “Courchevel, 100%!” And he wasn’t the only one – I had several responses from people who could name, without hesitation or pause, their number one ride-’til-they-die resort. And as they delve into the reasons why their love for this place is so great – from the terrain, to the panoramas, to the epic ski days they’ve had their with buddies – their enthusiasm is palpable through the page.

“Familiar resorts can be like old friends” | Courtesy of Rossignol

For most, it was a resort they’d skied many times. Familiar resorts can be like old friends. Our tiny local ski hill here in France, St Jean d’Aulps, is much like that for me. Stepping into the old egg-like gondola at the base station on the first day of the season is like seeing an old chum I’ve missed for eight months. I know every roller on every piste. Every pocket of trees where the snow falls deepest.

Is it my favourite resort? For now, I’d say yes. It may not have St Anton’s epic expanse of glades or a piste anywhere near as scintillating as Val d’Isère’s La Face, but I love the of-another-era feel of the place, how I know all the lifties by face (if not quite by name), and the big swooping run over the back that always seems like an adventure.

But if you ask me next year, or in five years time, who knows what I’ll say. Because choosing our favourite resort says as much about us – whether we’re a pro skier on an assignment or a mother – where we are on this powdery pilgrimage, as it does about the place. 

So where is your favourite resort? Email us at skeeks@fall-line.co.uk to let us know, or tell us on Facebook.

Taken from issue 145 of Fall-Line, out now