Someone on the Crystal Facebook page asked us the following question:
“I’m thinking about skiing in Canada or America next year. After looking at the piste maps they don’t seem to compare to the Alps. I’m worried I’ll be disappointed after spending so much more money and travelling for hours longer?”
The responses were so incredibly helpful, so we decided to compile them into a useful comparison between the European titans and the best North America has to offer. Agree? Disagree? Let us know on Facebook or leave us a comment at the bottom of this post.
North America: On the whole, both Canada and the US enjoy consistent and reliably deep snow all season. The West coast of North America gets amazingly light and fluffy snow, ideal for off-piste powder skiing. Steamboat, in Colorado, literally has a trademark on the term “Champagne Powder”.
Europe: Snow throughout Europe and the Alps is generally fairly reliable. For guaranteed snow, head for high altitude or glacier resorts like the French Les Deux Alpes or Zermatt in Switzerland.
North America: The pistes tend to be wider here, meaning less congestion compared with many European resorts. It’s also rare to queue for lifts. Loads of North American resorts have “bowls”, which are large unpisted areas where Powder Hounds can have a play.
Additionally, it’s common for a ski area to be made up of lots of resorts linked together – Salt Lake City or Lake Tahoe areas for example – allowing you to ski at a different resort each day with a single lift pass.
Europe: There is so much variety in the Alps it’s difficult to quickly sum it up. Individual resorts are large and often linked with their neighbours. The nature of the Alps makes for lots of steep runs with significant vertical descent. There are also tons of smaller resorts which cater to families. There really is something for everyone in Europe.
North America: Americans, despite their ballsy claims, just don’t know how to party like the Europeans do. That’s not to say the après is bad though – if you’re after a more relaxed take on the post-piste tradition, look no further.
Europe: Europe – Austria in particular – is renowned for its excellent après-ski and lively, varied nightlife. Find a banging resort, like St Anton or Val d’Isere and you can party from 4pm until first lifts.
North America: The best bit. North American food is what you’d imagine – wholesome, often fried, and in massive portions. Waffles for breakfast, burgers for lunch and wings for dinner is the true diet of the skier – and covering everything in maple syrup or fries is definitely the best way to smash your slope PB’s.
Europe: This greatly depends on where you’re staying and where you dine, but European food can be superb. Making the most of local produce and traditional dishes, the food served up throughout Europe tends to be of a high standard and offers good variety. From fondue and raclette in the Alps, cured meats in the Dolomites, to Swiss chocolate, be sure to make the most of any local specialities!
North America: From restaurant service to having a chat on the chairlift, North Americans tend to be very friendly, hospitable and polite. Communication is also made easier as there’s no language barrier, making ski lessons and the like much simpler. Service with a smile, always.
Europe: Ski resorts are full of people from all over the place. It’s always worth getting to know the locals – in some places they are absolutely fascinating and a real way to get to learn the local culture. English can be a struggle in some smaller resorts, but skiing is a universal language.
North America: The standard of accommodation is very high in North America; rooms are spacious and of high quality. Generally you get what you’d expect a high quality city hotel room to be like
Europe: European ski accommodation generally tends to be more traditional, authentic and charming. Who needs all the mod cons all the time? The slopes are the real star here. But loads of places also have luxurious accommodation is that’s what you’re after – try out some Crystal Finest, for example.
Europe: Traditional Alpine villages draped in piles of fresh snow with mountain peaks soaring high above the clouds; this is something Europe does very well. While you get some modernist monstrosities, the local towns are generally very pleasant to spend time in – and a lot nicer than your local high street.
North America: Rolling forested slopes as far as the eye can see, here and there a stark rock jutting skyward – the Rockies aren’t bad to look at either. Tree-heavy resorts offer some of the most stunning ski views you’ll ever see.
Europe: For those of us based in the UK, the short flight times to other European countries are a real bonus. Combine this with the option to drive or take the train and it really is a piece of cake getting to the Alps.
North America: There’s no getting away from it – North America is far away, with the shortest flights being in the region of about seven hours. When you arrive, you’re still facing a fairly lengthy transfer. Sheer length of travel time makes it pointless heading out to the US or Canada for less than a week. But trust us – it’s so worth it.