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Top 10 ski destinations

28th November 2012

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Looking for the perfect ski destination for a New Year break? How does a French chalet stocked with mulled wine sound? Look no further - here ski instructor Lorna Gibson gives you her top ten off-piste hot spots... 

Park City, Utah, USA

Park City is a beautiful old mining town which twinkles in the snow throughout the whole winter. With 3 resorts to play at without stepping outside of this awesome little place, you can explore plenty of wide groomed trails or off-piste powder by day, and finish off hitting the bars in Main Street at night.  If you want to find a winter wonderland for Christmas, it won't disappoint. It's also fun to go during the Sundance Film Festival if celeb spotting and new movies float your boat. People will have you believe you can't drink in Utah, but it hasn't been a dry state for years and there are plenty of bars to keep you happy. The Canyons now has an alpine zip wire which lets you whizz across a canyon above the trees. 

Meribel, France

If you want the picture postcard ski holiday, it has to be a chalet in Europe, tucked up in a wooden chalet drinking mulled wine! Of course that part comes after a day of shredding the endless long runs that resorts within the 3 Valleys area have to offer. If you want to impress your mates (this is skills dependent!) head for the Couloir Tournier, also known as the Meribel Couloir. The 37 degree chute has been turned into a black run and you can be filmed for free. Whether you turn or tumble on camera is up to you! 

Whistler, Canada

If you quickly tire of spending more time going up a chairlift than it takes to get back down then Whistler is the place to be. If your legs aren't worn out by the long runs and huge terrain to explore, then there are plenty of bars to go and play in at the end of the day. 

Niseko, Japan

If you want a ski holiday with a difference, this has to be it. Not only is the powder exceptional and worth the trip alone, amazing food and a new culture (and Monkey Onsens!) to explore will make it such a fantastic experience. Niseko is one of the more well-known resorts and has great nightlife. If you want to avoid the tourists, there are other, perhaps more authentically Japanese, resorts to go at too. 

Treble Cone, New Zealand

If the thought of spending your summer skiing makes you want to run for the beach, then ignore this one. If it puts a big smile on your face, read on! Treble Cone is in the southern hemisphere, so you can ski there from June ‘till October - perfect if you didn't get enough of a snow fix through the winter. This mountain is impossible to beat on views - looking out over the stunning Lake Wanaka, it's worth a visit for that alone. BUT... not only is it easy on the eye, it is one hell of a fun mountain too. It is predominantly made up of black off-piste terrain with a few blue groomers for good measure. It will challenge even the best skiers and the terrain never gets old. With plenty of natural half pipes and chutes to explore, it makes a perfect winter playground. 

Cardrona, New Zealand

Not far from Treble Cone, Cardrona sits near the town of Wanaka. It is a great all round mountain. If you have a group of mixed abilities, it's a great place to be. There is a mix of groomed greens and blues, black chutes, and an extensive park and half pipe. Cardrona hosts a number of competitions throughout the winter including the Burton Open, so if you want to watch some pros throw down some tricks, chances are you can. 

Zermatt, Switzerland

The highest ski area in the Alps gets great snow and the town sits at the bottom of the stunning Matterhorn mountain. If that isn't enough, it has some of the steepest slopes in the world to get your heart racing and some awesome bars to keep you going well into the night. Zermatt is car free, except electric cars, so if you're environment-conscious, it may help ease your carbon footprint conscience. 

Breckenridge, Colorado, USA

Although sometimes known as Breckenfridge for its cold temperatures, this town is worth it! Just pack some warm clothes and go have some fun! It's a laid back mountain with a lot of variety, from powder and moguls, to ‘cruisey’ highways. Not only that but Breckenridge has a park which attracts athletes from all over the world, so if park's your thing and you want some inspiration, it's an awesome place to be. Not only is it a fun place to ski, but the town is worth a visit in itself. 

Grouse Mountain, Canada

An obscure one to feature, but if you've ever been up here as the sun is setting over Vancouver and the city lights are coming on, you will understand why it made the list. Grouse Mountain is small but perfectly formed.  The on-mountain restaurants and bars are really different from the usual large North American stuff you get. The Observatory is well worth a visit and offers locally sourced food with a stunning view to match. Vancouver is a vibrant city to explore too. 

Lech, Austria

Although not cheap, this place is full of Austrian charm. A must do in Lech is to ski the "white ring" trail. It covers 22km of pistes and 5500 vertical meters. If that finishes you off and you want to give your legs a rest, take a sleigh ride out of town for some strudel and mulled wine. If speed is your thing, seek out the speed cameras and race your mates. 

Lorna Gibson is a qualified ski instructor and runs Toots McSkibum.

Toots McSkibum make awesome beanies, colour changing bandanas and neck warmers, all produced in the UK or the USA.

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