October 25, 2013 7:39 pm

My little secret – six celebrated skiers reveal their favourite little-known resorts

Chris Davenport, Chemmy Alcott and four celebrated skiers share their favourite little-known resorts

Chris Davenport

Former world extreme ski champion and star of more than 30 ski movies

I have always loved remote, forgotten, out-of-the way ski destinations. In the age of mega-resorts and futuristic aerial trams, it’s often quite refreshing to ride a slow double-chairlift, sit in a 1960s-era base lodge and soak up what the sport is really all about: the skiing itself. In Colorado, where I’m from, such a place exists, and it’s a mere two hours away from the theme-park scene at Vail and the mountain-chic ambience of Aspen. It’s a small, three-chairlift resort called Powderhorn, perched high on the Grand Mesa – a hidden gem among giants. At Powderhorn there is no glitz or glamour, no fancy restaurants, no retail stores and no lift lines. There is, however, plenty of great powder snow and some of the best tree skiing in Colorado. You won’t be disappointed.

www.powderhorn.com

Interview by Arnie Wilson

. . .

Chemmy Alcott

Britain’s leading female ski racer

Having skied 21 winters back to back, I have had a lot more than my fair share of snowy days. Coming to the end of my career, I’m beginning to have exciting conversations with my friends about ski holidays (yes, no gate skiing allowed).

They often suggest the usual suspects – a weekend in Chamonix, an end-of-season rip up of the pistes in Verbier – so when I say, “What about Valle Nevado, August 2016?” they look at me like I’m finally going insane.

Why ski in the summer? Why go all the way to the Andes? And always, “I’ve never even heard of it.”

Well, there’s a reason for that. It’s a big effort to get there; the road up is slightly dodgy; and in August most people are thinking about the beach. So it remains my hidden jewel.

It’s not just the mind-blowing sunrises. It’s not just because there is so much terrain. It’s not just because the slopes down in Chile make you feel like a hero with their easy-to-carve snow. It’s because it’s the one place I’ve found where I can ski alone.

I can stand at the top of the mountain looking down to the hustle and bustle of Santiago in the distance and not see or hear a soul.

Who cares that the resort hotels aren’t up to European levels of luxury? When you’ve skied all day, all you really need is a good feed and a bed.

Obviously, because I can’t keep my mouth shut, this could all change – but anyone who makes the effort to go all the way to the Andes to ski is a kindred spirit. I won’t mind sharing my slopes with you.

www.vallenevado.com

Interview by Arnie Wilson

. . .

Franz Klammer

Former Olympic downhill champion

Franz Klammer

I have wonderful memories of skiing the Patscherkofel mountain, where I won my Olympic gold medal in 1976. It’s part of the Igls ski area near Innsbruck. Igls is a pretty village, with good skiing for beginners and intermediates. The Patscherkofel run is quite steep but anyone can ski it. In 1976 I averaged just under 103km an hour. I ski it a little more slowly these days.

www.innsbruck.info

Interview by Arnie Wilson

. . .

Tommy Moe

Olympic gold medallist and five-time US champion

Tommy Moe

It’s hard to get to Whitefish Mountain Resort in northwest Montana, but it’s totally worth it. It has 3,500 acres of terrain, tons of intermediate and expert slopes, and gets lots of good snow. The tree skiing is amazing. I was born in Montana and learnt to ski there – when I was very young, my Dad would let me and my brother skip school to ski on powder days.

www.skiwhitefish.com

Interview by Arnie Wilson

. . .

Ed Leigh

BBC “Ski Sunday” presenter

Ed Leigh

The last couple of winters have delivered bumper snow harvests in Europe, but that means the bigger resorts tend to be mobbed and tracked out within days or even hours. So I’ve taken the opportunity to explore some lesser-known resorts. The most recent gem I’ve found is Lenzerheide in Switzerland. It has terrain to suit every skier and plenty of altitude to ensure fresh snow.

www.lenzerheide.com

Interview by Matt Barr

. . .

Gigi Rüf

Professional snowboarder

Gigi Rüf

There are at least nine ski areas in the Bregenzerwald region, where I grew up, all with great terrain and snowfall but no crowds or queues. But if I had to choose one I would have to say Diedamskopf. My uncle had a guesthouse there, Neuhornbachhaus, and it’s where my riding and my feel for snowboarding began. I still love to spend the pre-season there.

www.diedamskopf.at; www.neuhornbachhaus.com

Interview by Matt Barr

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