Have you ever dreamed of skiing and riding some of the most renowned and sought after ski areas in the Western United States? If so, you’re not the only one. Matt Gibson, one of the newest members of the Liftopia blog team and writer behind About.com‘s snowboarding guide, and photographer Emilie Warden are making their ski dreams come true this winter with their Best in the West Tour, in which they’ll be hitting up dozens of ski towns across the Western United States in a bid to create a “people’s list” of the best ski resorts.
We asked Matt why exactly he and Emilie were interested in creating a “people’s list” of the best ski areas. His response: “A causal skier choosing their ski destination based on the opinion of a professional skier,” says Gibson, “is like a soccer mom choosing to buy a car based on the opinion of a NASCAR driver. It’s useless because their needs are completely different. Choosing a car based only on the technical specifications would be equally ridiculous. What she really needs to do is ask other mothers what cars they like and why. That’s what we’re doing — traveling from town to town asking average people what makes a great trip for them. From that we’re going to determine the qualities that create a great vacation for the average skier or boarder. Then, we’re going to use information from locals about the qualities of their hometowns and local mountains to figure out which ski resorts and ski towns will be most likely to offer the best experience for the most people.”
Matt and Emilie are kicking off their tour today in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. From there they will move on to Grand Targhee, and then to other ski resorts in Utah, California, and Colorado. They’re documenting the trip on Matt’s website and are reaching out to skiers and snowboarders across the country via Facebook and Twitter in order to meet with them over coffee, drinks or a few turns to discuss their feelings about what makes a good ski resort and the qualities of their hometown mountain. They’re also conducting a survey to help gather additional data, and will be announcing their findings at the end of the tour in the Spring.
The best part for you, fellow skiers and riders? They’ll be giving away $10 Liftopia Gift Cards to anyone who helps them out, and all interviewees will be entered for the chance to win $2,500 of Eddie Bauer First Ascent ski or snowboard apparel. So, keep an eye out for Matt and Emilie on the hill and if you spot them, make sure to stop and chat!