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.
Perfect Groomers, All the Time: Stratton, VT
BEGINNER TO INTERMEDIATE
Stratton targets newbies with its huge percentage of beginner and intermediate terrain, smart ski- and boot-fitters, top-of-the-line rental equipment, and the best snowmaking in the Northeast. Stratton farms the stuff, then tweaks it on a near-hourly basis if needed, which makes a huge difference when you're learning to turn. "Our snow is better than Mother Nature's," says head of operations Mike Quinn. "We can tailor it for whatever conditions New England throws at us that day."
More information: Lift, lesson, and rental, $100; stratton.com.
Credit: Hubert Schriebl