Over one hundred thousand snowboarders read every issue of TransWorld, and each of them had the opportunity to chime in on our annual Resort Poll.
Scores and rankings are based on 22 criteria, everything from the variety of jumps in the park to the terrain quality and whether or not a resort is a good value.
Pipe and Park scores make up two-thirds of the total because these elements are fundamental to any resort worth visiting. Terrain parks and pipes require big investments and constant maintenance, so even if you’re not particularly into hucking and jibbing, you can bet that a mountain with a top-ten park program also kills it in other areas.
The purpose of all this tabulating is singular: You deserve to know which resorts are worth your time and money. Start planning your vacation!--K.H.
For the full-length Top Ten Snowboard Resorts feature, check out the January issue of TransWorld SNOWboarding.
Best Overall Resort
Mammoth Mountain, California
More snow, terrain, and nightlife than you can shake a board at.
This makes sense. Last winter Mammoth experienced the second snowiest season on record with 607 inches of snowfall. It started off early and kept coming, allowing the resort to open in October and stay open through July¿that¿s a solid nine-plus months of quality shredding. Is it any wonder that Mammoth knocked Whistler/Blackcomb from its four-year-long reign as the Best Overall Resort? (Despite suffering through a freak winter without snow, Whistler still placed in the top three.)
The terrain at Mammoth is the definition of diverse. You can choose to do laps through the Unbound Main Park all day with the crowd of pro snowboarders, only switching it up to hit Unbound South. Or you can do the opposite, by heading up the gondola to the backside and dropping cliffs, slashing windlips, and powering through the trees. There’re long groomers, steep leg burners off the summit, Superpipes and Super Duper pipes, and jibby circuits down the runs. Whatever type of terrain you’re looking for, Mammoth has it, and with an average of 300 days of sunshine per year, you’ll even be able to see it all.
Snow and terrain will keep you stoked through the day, but it’s the two-year-old Intrawest Village that completes the experience. Just the convenience of waking up in the village, grabbing a Starbies, and loading onto the gondola without any of the hassles of driving and parking is enough of a benefit. But the Village also adds the final touches to make Mammoth a true destination resort--a variety of restaurants, nightclubs packed with cool kids, and a place to chill after shredding to get the vacation vibe rollin’.
The only way to get into Mammoth is the 395 drive--we’ll definitely see you on the road this winter.--Annie Fast
Best Overall Resort
1. Mammoth, California 8.82
2. Park City, Utah 8.79
3. Whistler/Blackcomb, B.C, 8.68
4. Breckenridge, Colorado 8.44
5. Stratton, Vermont 8.21
6. Squaw Valley, California 8.17
7. Sierra-at-Tahoe, California 8.04
8. Winter Park, Colorado 7.99
9. Vail, Colorado 7.89
10. Northstar-at-Tahoe, California 7.85
Park City, Utah
Twice is nice--Park City wins a title defense.
Park City, Utah has come up, snatching the much-coveted award for an unprecedented two years straight¿again smoking the big guns of Mammoth and Whistler/Blackcomb. It’s quite an accomplishment for a resort that didn¿t even crack the top ten a few years back. Word spreads quickly in snowboard circles, and a well thought out, perfectly maintained park system¿along with the slick marketing of the Park City All Stars, featuring the likes of Shaun White and MFM, has placed it atop the heap for a repeat.
Let’s forget about the competition in Canada and California for a moment. On a local level, Park City has pulled the rug out from under the local snowboarder resorts, Snowbbird and Brighton, by creating world-class terrain features. P.C. effectively flipped the script, and now kids are hot lapping King’s Crown on the regular--only hitting up the other mountains on deep-powder days.
The front side of Park City showcases most of the snowpark goods: The King’s Crown Superpark is where the spons’ed kids ride--both kickers of consequence and advanced rail features abound. Next to King’s Crown lies the intermediate Payday Park that lights up after dark for evening jibs.
I usually start off across the way at the Pick ‘n’ Shovel park, chock full of intermediate features to warm up on before heading over to King’s Crown. The Eagle Superpipe is right near Pick ‘n’ Shovel, and it’s always presentable, if not near perfection. And finally, the beginner park, Jonesie’s, is located over on the east side of the mountain.--Dresser
1. Park City, Utah 8.96
2. Mammoth Mountain, California 8.78
3. Whistler/Blackcomb, B.C., Canada 8.68
4. Sierra-at-Tahoe, California 8.46
5. Winter Park, Colorado 8.46
6. Bear Mountain, California 8.45
7. Northstar-at-Tahoe 8.39
8. Breckenridge, Colorado 8.33
9. Stratton, Vermont 8.23
10. Squaw Valley, California 8.18
Good Snow, Good Equipment, And A Little Bit Of Love.
You’d think that in this day and age of standardized pipe-cutters and solid snowmaking tactics that good halfpipes would be a dime a dozen--but they’re not. That’s because a halfpipe is more than the sum total of a snowcat with a transition arm and a big lump of snow. It’s finesse, it’s devotion, it’s love--it’s understanding things like snow consistency and trajectory angles and the mystery of weather patterns. And apparently, it’s what Breckenridge, Colorado has figured out.
Edging out last year’s Best Pipe winner Mammoth by nearly an entire point, Breckenridge made a huge impact on you, the riding public, this season with four (yep, four) halfpipes scattered across the span of its shreddable acreage--from the friendly, beginner-style transitions of the El Dorado Park, on up to the real-deal giant-ness of the Freeway Superpipe. Breck’s high altitude and dialed-in snowmaking mean that the resort is usually one of the first in its region to build a legitimate halfpipe, not to mention Superpipe, and it’s gained notoriety because of this. In fact, the Zaugg-cut Freeway pipe is where you’ll find former X-Games champ Steve Fisher and other locals like Chad Otterstrom and Todd Richards knocking the cobwebs off in November and December, or, come deeper winter, trying new tricks on one of their park-run hotlaps.
This coming season the Breckenridge Superpipe will play host to the inaugural Grand Prix Olympic qualifier from December 13-17, and with Team U.S.A. status at stake, you can count on seeing something you’ve never seen before; and then trying to pull it off yourself on those same trannies when the event is over.--J.S.
1. Breckenridge, Colorado 9.11
2. Mammoth, California 9.04
3. Park City, Utah 8.67
4. Whistler/Blackcomb, B.C. 8.22
5. Stratton, Vermont 8.20
6. Squaw Valley, California 8.08
7. Sierra-at-Tahoe, California 7.87
8. Copper Mountain, Colorado 7.83
9. Northstar at Tahoe, California 7.77
10. Winter Park, Colorado 7.54