Thun, Switzerland
Credit: Richard Boll / Getty Images

Before winning his first Olympic gold, Seth Wescott lived in Thun, Switzerland, for three years, having decided to roost in a region with a high density of ski areas and an enormous amount of terrain. Even before that, the Alps had played an important part in his life. Wescott grew up watching 'Greg Stump's World of Extremes' on television, which introduced him to "places like Verbier, Wengen, and Chamonix," he says.

When he finally got to snowboard on mountains he had long fantasized about, Wescott says the reality more than lived up to his childhood daydreams. "The whole area from Thun to Interlaken, what's known as the Bernese Oberland, is amazing – the best powder I've ever had in Europe."

He goes back every year and says that once he's done with World Cup racing, he'll go back even more often. For the adult Wescott, a lot of the appeal of the Bernese Oberland comes from the infrastructure. "This is the birthplace of alpinism, of downhill skiing, with a rich history in the sport," he says. "Everything is set up for access, from pedestrian ski villages to trains that drop you off directly at the resort. You don't even need a car."