We battled 29 of our favourite ski resorts against each other, and the winner was a complete surprise…
It’s a question that gets any skier fired up: Which is the world’s best ski resort? It’s silly really. Because it’s so subjective. And really it’s impossible to compare, say, France’s mighty Espace Killy with some teeny ski hill in Austria that no one has ever heard of but that, on the right day, can dish up the best tree skiing you could ever imagine. Both are epic for very different reasons. So yes, trying to decide which is the world’s best ski resort is a futile task.
Right, now we’ve got that out the way, we’d like to welcome you to our Battle of the Ski Resorts.
Seven members of the Fall-Line team – who have collectively been globe-trotting more than 200 resorts for over 200 years – were asked to nominate their favourite ski resorts of all time. Each resort was then scored out of 10 on the following factors:
- Ease of access from the UK
- Sense of scale and epicness – wow factor
- Variety and quality of the pistes – points deducted for appalling congestion at download time, lift queues and so on
- Off-piste potential
- Lapability – do the pistes or off-piste itineraries deserve a proper multiple going-over?
- On-hill grub – quality, quantity, value
- Quality of the après-ski scene
- Base – how suitable is it as a base for either
a ski safari or touring excursion?
- Family – how suitable is it for getting the nippers on skis, include deals, family-friendly accommodation and so on
We’ve added all the scores up and the winner, based on Fall-Line’s real-world scoring system is…
Montafon, Austria! Once you get past the slightly awkward access, it is rather brilliant. It combines a sense of remoteness with 200+km of often-deserted and lapable pistes. Snowmaking is plentiful. There are more ski routes and hike ‘n’ ride itineraries than you could ever fit into a week.
Forests abound. It is family friendly, yet there is plenty of Austrian-esque après-ski rambunctiousness to be had if that’s your thing (Hemingway spent two winters in the Montafon, with much of his time spent in the bars – the locals dubbed him the “kirsch-drinking Christ”).
Runner up is Val d’Isère: no less brilliant, with its vast off-piste playground, enormous network of pistes and superb ski schools (all Val d’Isère needs to do is drop its prices and we’d have even more love for it).
So there we have it. And next time the conversation of ‘What is the world’s best ski resort?’ comes up with your mates, send them this link.
The full rankings
Here’s the scores (out of 90) and rankings of each individual resort. Click on the links to see how we ranked each resort.
Nicola Iseard, Editor
Years skiing: 29
Fave resort features: trees; steep moguls; live music.
Jonny Richards, Editor-at-large
Years skiing: 25
Fave resort features: aspen or, better still, bamboo trees; natural half pipes; friendly locals.
Dickie Fincher, Publisher
Years skiing: 27
Fave resort features: lengthy powder pitches with amusing features to plop off; gyroscopically-testing long runs; no crowds, ever.
Mary Creighton, Digital editor
Years skiing: 22
Fave resort features: sheltered tree runs; rustic huts; ancient two-man chairs.
Martin Chester, Backcountry editor
Years skiing: 26
Fave resort features: lack of restrictions (such as nature reserves) to stop you ducking off-piste; summits; anywhere that elicits the question: “Where the hellis that?”
Will Robson, Staff writer
Years skiing: 45
Fave resort features: empty powder fields; skinning opportunities; jumps that I can do a spread eagle off of.
Yolanda Carslaw, Sub editor
Years skiing: 39
Fave resort features: t-bars; car-free towns; epic lift-accessed powder and day tours.