The 10 largest ski resorts in the world
With hundreds of ski resorts to choose from, planning a ski holiday is not easy. Of course, you can narrow your selection depending on what your preferences are: beginners or advanced, challenging terrain or wide array of shopping choices, family destination or ski resorts for snow holidays with your mates.
But if you get bored quite rapidly of carving the same run over and over after 3 days, the size of the ski area is probably something you’ll want to look at. Indeed, ski resorts with hundreds kilometers of runs and thousands of hectares guarantee to have lot of options and not to do the same run. This is the opportunity to combine your favourite activity with exploring the mountain.
But what are the biggest ski resorts in the world? Well, that’s not so easy to say.
First off all, apart from North America, most ski resorts determine size in terms of the length of their runs rather than actual area size. Then, every ski resort calculates length of run in different ways. This could be explained by the fact that there is no a single official method to calculate the size of these resorts and also by the fact that each ski resort tend to exaggerate a little bit the numbers.
Christoph Schrahe has recently conducted a study to measure the actual size of ski resorts by using accurate digital tools. He measured runs in a simple way – directly down an imaginary line in the middle of the run – whereas most resorts use tricks to find more impressive figures. Some based their calculation on a skier doing really wide turns on the piste, while others count runs twice if they are over a certain width. Some of them sometimes include well-known off-piste routes as well.
The following list shows the “measured” figures as determined by Schrahe and compare them with the resorts’ claimed figures. But no matter how far are the actual numbers from the claimed figures, this list gather the biggest ski resorts in the world and they are big enough for you to ski or board there for 6 months without getting bored!
#10 Vail – Colorado, USA
Claimed: 5,289 acres
Vail is a huge ski area and the biggest in the USA. Although the resort boasts 53% of black runs, there is a great variety of terrain to suit all ability levels. With large perfectly groomed runs, amazing tree skiing and the famous Back Bowls, Vail has got it all in one single ski area.
#9 L’Espace Killy- Val d’Isere and Tignes, France
With one more kilometre than Vail, Val d’Isère and Tignes share one of the best areas in the world, l’Espace Killy. The amazing combination of gentle slopes, large cruisers runs and steep terrain and pistes such as the Olympic run La Face make of this area a perfect ski resort to explore. In addition, the area boasts some of the best and most extensive lift system in the world and the high altitude with two glaciers guarantee an excellent quality of snow throughout the winter.
#8 SkiWelt – Austria
SkiWelt is the biggest ski area in Austria without having to jump in connecting buses. The main resorts of SkiWelt are Söll, Ellmau and Brixen and Westendorf forming an offshoot to the south. There is a great combination of short and intense runs at the top and long cruisers runs at the bottom, which make of SkiWelt a heaven for intermediate cruisers.
#7 Milky Way – France-Italy
The Milky Way enjoys a beautiful location at the border between France and Italy. This area includes Sauze d’Oulx, Sestriere and Sansicario which are closely linked, as are Italian Claviere and French Montgenèvre. However, the connection between France and Italy at Cesana Torines is not so easy to make and it sometimes faster to take the bus. This region is also perfect for cruising between France and Italy, where you could enjoy two excellent gastronomies.
#6 Zermatt-Cervinia – Switzerland-Italy
With excellent network of lifts and two part of the resort completely different, Zermatt-Cervinia is one of the best ski areas in the world to enjoy. Zermatt in Switzerland is beautiful and a bit pricey while Cervinia is affordable with pretty Italian architecture and amazing gastronomy on the slopes.
Zermatt has a car-free village with an attractive mixture of ancient and modern. There is a great variety of terrain but most pistes – apart from the Glacier area – are serious reds and will attract the adventurous intermediates.
The top of the mountain is at 4,000 meters and it’s located right on the border. From there, you can access the Italian part of the resort with south sunny exposure, where you carve the large gentle cruisers runs.
#5 Whistler-Blackcomb – British Columbia, Canada
Claimed: 8,171 acres
Whistler and Blackcomb mountains boast the biggest linked area in North America, as well as the biggest vertical drop (1,610m) and one of the snowiest destination in the world.
The area below the tree line is really attractive for beginners and intermediates with wide cruisers runs. But what make this ski resort different are the high bowls and infinite backcountry possibilities above the tree line. This where the most advanced skiers and boarders will go to get challenging terrain. With challenging terrain, cruisers runs, beautiful lively village and lots of activities; Whistler-Blackcomb has literally something to offer to everyone.
For the second part of the list, please click here.