US vs European Ski Slopes
You can buy the best ski pants, get the best poles and ski boots, and have been skiing all your life, but you can’t deny the differences between US and European ski slopes. We want to stress the point that you can find fantastic trails and excellent conditions in the US and Europe, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the experience will be the same. These five key differences could have you changing course for your next winter trip.
1. The Sheer Height Difference
There are so many ski destinations in the United States and Europe that share similar traits, but you quite literally can’t argue with geography. While you’ll hear us talking about trials and powder still being viable on each side of the world, if you’re a hardcore skier and want a further drop, you’re going to have to side with Europe ski resorts instead.
Some popular destinations in the United States are Vermont and Maine for skiing and snowboarding, but their mountains tend to hover around the 2,000 ft range, whereas you have European destinations with a higher average. That isn’t to say you don’t have high spots in the US, such as Big Sky, which has over 4,000 ft of a drop, but since those spots are more exclusive they tend to cost more to stay at.
One doesn’t necessarily trump the other. It all depends on preference, and understanding that you might cut down on lodging costs if you’re driving a few hours to a ski resort, versus flying halfway across the world to a place you’re unfamiliar with.
2. Europe Has a Less Salesy Atmosphere
When you go to most European ski lodges and slopes, they understand one thing: they’ve already acquired your business because you’re staying with them. They aren’t trying to constantly push a ton of promotions and high-cost restaurants in your face, nor trying to upsell you on everything imaginable. In the United States, there’s so much competition between destinations that they have to include deals to get you in the door, and then they hit you with higher-than-expected costs for amenities and other fun events inside.
We talked about lodging costs a moment ago. If you’d rather be close to home and save the airfare, you could always go with a local or out-of-state spot, but we’re willing to wager that in the winter season, you’re going to spend the same on airfare that you would on gas and in-between lodging. Not to mention the less expensive amenities. You get to simply enjoy your ski trip for none other than the reason you came. So before you pack your ski backpack, have all these facts in mind.
3. Shorter Lines, Better Lifts
In Europe, most skiers are far more relaxed than these powerhouse vacations we take locally in the US. They don’t show up to the slopes until mid or late morning, giving you more time to get acquainted with the new trails in the early morning. Even when they arrive, it doesn’t get immediately congested and backed up beyond belief.
In the US, we’re all trying to be on a time clock even when we’re supposed to be relaxing with friends and family. Vacations aren’t supposed to be stressful, but if you’re dead set on hitting the slopes early, you’ll have just about zero competition in your way. Either way, in order to avoid any injuries, make sure you are equipped with a good and reliable ski helmet, ski mask and ski bindings.
4. Better Food Fuel Options
It’s America: we’re all being shoveled garbage food at every city corner we turn, in every box on the shelves. Most European countries have a far stricter guideline on what is and isn’t allowed in their food, and take the time to actually prepare homemade-feeling meals. You’ll be able to visit local restaurants off the slope or find somewhere excellent within the lodge to eat, and you won’t be consuming chemical-ridden grease.
Your food is fuel, especially when you’re trying to perform in extremely cold climates. Nobody wants to be exhausted and tuckered out for the day at 11:00 AM. You came here for a long trip, so let’s actually get our money’s worth and enjoy it for as long as possible. You’ll have to wait longer for the food than at a drive-thru, but it’s a vacation, so ease off the throttle and enjoy your time. There’s no rush, just good food, and fun to be had.
As an added note, you’re also not being met with a ton of low-quality drive-thru coffee. Europeans drink non-processed teas, some herbal, some not, and provide a longer bout of energy throughout the day. Skiing in Europe is an all-day affair, so make sure you pack all your ski essentials and make the most of it while you’re there.
5. Calmer Surroundings
There’s nothing but a good time to be had in Europe. While American slopes might be bigger, they’re also brimming with tons of people who haven’t traveled outside of the country to find what they’re missing. There’s less stress, and more time to relax and just enjoy your life and surroundings when you go to most European destinations.
US citizens have this notion that vacations are about being productive, and scheduling as much “fun” as possible. Except, when you schedule fun, it doesn’t really pan out that way. You’ve got no stresses, no long to-do lists, just a simple and relaxing, rewarding time to enjoy your friends and family. There’s a reason why Europeans have been shown to be more likely to travel to the same ski destination every single year: they’re not looking for a million experiences. If it isn’t broke, there’s no need to fix it. We think that after your first trip, you’ll find your one-and-only skiing destination in Europe to travel back to every single year.
What’s Your Preference?
Whether you’re traveling abroad this winter season, or you just don’t like how the slopes operate at home, what’s your go-to ski slopestyle? The distinct differences in atmosphere and accommodations really set apart the entire experience. You can get the same type of powder in Denver that you can find in Charmonix, or trails in Maine that are similar to Tignes, but at the end of the day it’s all about preference. Besides, it’s always nice to brag about visiting somewhere new if you’re heading overseas for your next ski trip.