January 4, 2013 / 11:51 AM / 5 years ago

Travel Picks: Top 10 places to ski like an Olympian

BOSTON, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Whether you're a beginning skier
or polished pro, ski vacations usually combine a little bit of
travel, history and adrenaline-pumping fun on the slopes. That's
why online travel adviser Cheapflights (www.cheapflights.com)
has come up with its Top 10 destinations to ski like an
Olympian. Reuters has not endorsed this list:    
1.  Park City Mountain Resort - Utah, United States
    The 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City caused quite a
stir between bribery scandals and referee controversies, but it
was also one of the most successful Winter Olympics in history.
Top events including Giant Slalom and snowboarding were held at
Park City Mountain Resort, one of Salt Lake City's premier ski
resorts, just 34 miles outside the city. A mix of beginner,
intermediate and expert levels, Park City Mountain resort boasts
more than 114 trails, with an average yearly snowfall of 340
inches.
2.  Whistler Blackcomb - British Columbia, Canada
    Arguably the largest ski resort in North America, Whistler
Blackcomb is also one of the most visited. Made up of two peaks,
Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Peak, Whistler Blackcomb has
more than 200 ski trails zig-zagging through the Fitzsimmons
range. The 2010 Olympics divided all its ski and snowboarding
events between the two peaks, so you're sure to ski over some
history when you tackle this ski resort.
3.  Nakiska Mountain Resort - Alberta, Canada
    Technically the 1988 Olympics were held in Calgary, but all
alpine ski events were held at Nakiska on Mount Allan in
Kananaskis County. A relatively small resort, Nakiska boasts
only 64 ski runs, but you're almost always guaranteed good
skiing. Nakiska is now an official training center for Alpine
Ski Teams around the world every year. Nakiska averages about 95
inches of snow per year, but has extensive snow-making
abilities.
4.  Whiteface Mountain - New York, United States
    The first Winter Olympics hosted in the U.S. were held in
Lake Placid, New York, and were officially opened by Franklin D.
Roosevelt in 1932. Then in 1980, Lake Placid hosted the Winter
Olympics for a second time. Whiteface Mountain, where the alpine
ski events were held, stands to be one of the tallest mountains
in the Adirondacks. Home to more than 22 miles of ski trails and
87 ski runs, Whiteface also averages more than 230 inches of
snow per year.
5.  Innsbruck - Austria
    Within twelve years of each other, Innsbruck, Austria was
able to host two major Winter Olympics in both 1964 and 1976. In
1964, a normally very snowy Innsbruck hit an all-time low for
snowfall and had to bring in 40,000 cubic meters of snow, which
was hand-packed by the Austrian army along the trails.
Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol, is now one of Europe's top ski
destinations. Axamer Lizum, which was expanded for the 1976
Olympics, has the largest variety of ski trails, where there's
something for every level. Plus, visitors can enjoy day trips to
Vienna or Salzburg, and tour Bavarian castles.
6.  Sapporo - Japan
    At the time, Sapporo was the first city outside of Europe or
North America to even hold a Winter Olympics. Prior to 1972,
Japan had never won a gold medal until Yukio Kasaya won in ski
jumping. Mt. Teine, where all ski events were held, continues to
be a hot Asia destination for skiing. After the Winter Olympics,
the resort continued to host important events including the
Asian Winter Games.
7.  Squaw Valley - California, United States
    Averaging a whopping 450 inches of snowfall each year, Squaw
Valley is the second largest ski resort in Lake Tahoe, and one
of the largest in the United States, boasting more than 270
trails. In 1960, times when tensions between the U.S. and Soviet
Union were intense, the U.S. threatened to not allow visas to
countries like China, Taiwan and Korea. Nowadays, there's plenty
of Olympics memorabilia for visitors to see, including the
plaque erected by Walt Disney on the Olympic flagpole.
8.  St. Moritz - Switzerland
    Deemed one of the most important places in winter sports
history, St. Moritz hosted the Winter Olympics twice in 1928 and
1948 as well as the 1934, 1974 and 2003 Alpine Skiing World
Championships. The 1928 Olympics were considered the first true
Winter Olympics, as they were completely separate from the
Summer Olympics. The 1948 Winter Olympics were the first Winter
Olympics after a twelve year hiatus, and the first Olympics held
after World War II. It was an important event for many countries
coming together who had been opposing each other for several
years earlier. There is plenty of Olympic history to explore at
St. Moritz.
9.  Garmisch Partenkirchen - Germany
    The last Winter Olympics held before a twelve year break on
the cusp of World War II, the Garmisch Partenkirchen games of
1936 were also the last year the Summer and Winter Olympics were
held in the same country. Sitting on the border of Austria and
Germany, in Germany's southern province of Bavaria, avid skiers
are able to ski in both countries down certain runs. Garmisch
Partenkirchen is also home to Germany's largest mountain known
as the Zugspitze, and skiers can take a train from town and
explore the famous Zugspitzbahn.
10. Chamonix - France
    Although the Chamonix games of 1924 were technically the
first Winter Olympics, they were called International Winter
Sports Week. Resting at the base of Mont Blanc, Chamonix is
considered some of the best skiing in the French Alps. At the
time, the only ski events that took place were ski jumping and
cross-country skiing, but rest assured you'll carve up plenty of
powder down these slopes nowadays.

 (Editing by Paul Casciato)

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