The Euro is dropping and the dollar is rising. No, this isn’t a story on world economics, but rather where to find a good ski destination for the money. Sure, any Denverite can kind-of cheaply and semi-easily hop onto I-70, brave the traffic and weave between plows and what-the-heck-are-you-doing-up-here Honda Civics to get to their favorite ski and ride spot. But if skiing is your passion when travel is your goal, then you can always head across the pond to the continent where skiing was invented. Sure, the roots of skiing are firmly planted in Norway, but may I suggest going just a bit south to Italy and i Dolomiti.
Just east of Milan and just north of Venice sit the Dolomites, a southern portion of the Alps, and are home to twelve interconnected ski areas and over 400 lifts, all accessible by one lift pass and an intricate series of trams and gondolas. Leave your hotel and grab a gondola car in one area and you can be anywhere in no time. Imagine being able to stay in Winter Park but being close enough to grab a seat on a lift and hit Vail, ride down Peak 8 in Breckenridge, head back up in Steamboat, cruise the bowls at Copper and hang out at the beach at A-Basin, all before doing a bit of off piste work back to Winter Park and your dinner date with a few tortellini and a nice pinot grigio. That’s skiing in the Dolomites. And no, I didn’t forget the snowboarders. Even though Europe was late to the ride party, 21 different different terrain parks mean the Italians are finally opening up to the knuckle dragger in all of us.
Sure, the snow isn’t quite as good as the champaign powder we tend to get here and lift lines are more like cattle calls where etiquette disappears as quickly as a free parking spot at Beaver Creek. And beware, the vast open bowls tend to be populated with skiers who seem bent on personal destruction (no matter yours or theirs) via an out of control ski getting lodged in your spleen. But, hey, the stunning beauty of the mountains and the sheer vastness of the areas mixed with the ski fashion, food and experience make it all worth the trip. Really, where else can you get off the slopes and hang out in a bar where the prosciutto legs hang openly above the tables and the babies in their strollers wear fur coats and Gucci? Okay, maybe Aspen. Plus, you may get to fly into Venice. If you have the time, you can grab a ride down the canals. All in all, not a bad way to spend a ski vacation.
So, if you call in sick or simply quit your job just to ski fresh powder, Vail and Steamboat call your name. But, if you yearn to travel in the winter and and you don’t mind bagging your gear (or renting, of course) then try a little trip to the fabulous little ex-Olympic village of Cortina d’Ampezzo or another little hamlet in the Dolomites for a great view from the other side.