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March 6, 2013 / kevinbrandes

Kevin Brandes: Great American Ski Runs

Kevin Brandes is an avid skier who has visited mountains all across the United States.

Among the many mountain resorts in the country, there are a few ski courses that stand out as being truly superior.

Riva Ridge, Vail: Vail is one of the country’s most famous skiing destinations, and with good reason: it offers a broad range of courses for skiers of every skill level in an idyllic setting that feels intimately connected to the great outdoors no matter how many other people are there. Riva Ridge is one of the longest and most spectacular runs at Vail. The course stretches over four miles, with a 3,050 foot vertical downgrade from top to bottom. It can be skied quickly and skillfully as a personal challenge or gently meandered down for intermediate skiers and those who wish to indulge in the gorgeous scenery.

Al’s Run, Taos: Taos, New Mexico, is home to another world-class ski destination just a half hour outside of town: the small, independent Taos Ski Valley with a wealth of difficult black diamond courses to invigorate even the most seasoned veterans of the sport. One of the most thrilling courses at Taos is simply called Al’s Run. A steep chute that drops 1,800 feet over its 4,000 foot length, Al’s Run also has delightful slaloms in the middle section to add to the simple thrill of the incredible downhill rush.

High Rustler, Alta: Utah’s famous Alta ski resort is known for its challenging nature. Most of the ski trails there are unnamed; skiers are expected to know their own abilities and make their own decisions at this “ski wherever you see a trail” destination. One of the most challenging and least-skied trails here is known as High Rustler, and getting there, which involves a lift ride followed by an extensive traverse that becomes narrow and steep, is half the challenge of running it. Those determined enough to reach the course are rewarded with world-class views and an exhilarating, steep run that conveniently ends at the lodges.

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