Ski schools aren't just for beginners anymore. As part of an overall resort revival, ski mountains are pouring millions of dollars into their instructional and guiding programs. "People are asking for more personalized coaching," says Andy Buckley, director of skier services at Northstar in Lake Tahoe. "When you struggle with something technical, it's analogous to work and life stuff – the psychological barriers, getting over the hump. The best ski coaches turn into life coaches." These days it's not uncommon for your instructor to be a local legend or an Olympic medalist; some resorts are engineering their runs so they have just the right angles and aspects to learn on; cat- and heli-skiing trips now often include a full master class on evaluating snow conditions. These are the best mountains, ski schools, and guided adventures to help you raise your game.
Custom Coaching: Killington and Jay Peak, VT
INTERMEDIATE TO ADVANCED
Easterners training for the West's big mountains hire Jeb Boyd, founder of the Arc2Arc Alpine Training Center in New Hampshire. Boyd is one of only 15 skiers on the elite Professional Ski Instructor Association alpine team; he specializes in what he calls "the mental game," using video analysis: "I can tell you what I'm seeing, but it's when you see it that you get that aha moment." Boyd analyzes video via email even after the face-to-face training ends.
His preferred classrooms are Killington and Jay Peak. "Killington has it all," says Boyd. "It's the biggest resort in the East with the largest variety of terrain." Among his favorite spots are the trails off Canyon Chair; they roll steeper as you go down the hill, getting progressively more challenging. When snow is an issue, Boyd heads to Jay Peak: Pressed up against the Canadian border in one of the nation's snowiest microclimates, it has some of the best in-bounds backcountry anywhere.
Book It: Arc2Arc, $600 per day; arc2arc.com; killington.com, jaypeakresort.com.
Credit: Lenny Christopher