An Olympian’s surprising Top 12 Alpine ski and snowboard resorts


Named to the U.S. Ski Team at 18, Bahrke, a native Californian, spent 11 years globetrotting for World Cup competitions and competing in three Olympics (Salt Lake City, Torino, and Vancouver). These days, she is squiring those with gobs of disposable income around one of America’s top luxury ski resorts. Though situated in the resplendent St. Regis in Deer Valley, her list of favorite places to ski range from the glitzy (Deer Valley, of course) to downright every-skier-or-rider, like Hunter Mountain.

This season, guests at the ski-in/out St. Regis Deer Valley, Utah, can arrange to ski with two-time Olympic freestyle moguls medalist Shannon Bahrke on the mountain where she won her 2002 silver. A half-day with the mogul queen is $400 per person, including lunch at Jean-Georges’ J&G Grill; a full day is $800 per person, including dinner and drinks at J&G. For groups of four, the rate is $1,500 half day, $2400 full day. For corporate clients, a half day is $5,000 for up to 12 people with lunch; a full day is $10,000, including cocktails and dinner.

Bahrke’s Energizer Bunny style and her enthusiasm for skiing are infectious, and she eagerly shares tips to those wishing to improve their technique. For those unable or unwilling to make the splurge, she schmoozes with all St. Regis guests about once a week over free afternoon s’mores on the hotel’s Astor Terrace.

Always eager to find new mountains to explore, I asked Bahrke to share some of her favorite alpine resorts.

1. Deer Valley, Utah: My favorite place to compete is Deer Valley because the resort does a phenomenal job and the volunteers have been here forever. They treat the competitors—everyone—like royalty, plus it’s fun to compete in front of the home crowd.

2. Squaw Valley, Calif: It’s where I’m from and I know it better than any mountain in the world. Something about Squaw that is so far above any other place, especially on a powder day.

3. Tignes, France: It’s my favorite place to ski in France because it’s such a big adventure. You can ski from Tignes to Val D’Isere, stopping for cherry pie at the top, cocoa en route, and wine in the afternoon.

4. Zermatt, Switzerland: Zermatt is the most magical place in the world, and I’ve never even been there in winter. We trained there in fall, when the trees are turning color at the base and there’s skiing on the glacier. Plus, the Matterhorn is right there.

5. Japan: The Japanese are the friendliest people I’ve ever met in the whole world, and I made my first podium in Madarao. It’s the steepest course we compete on, other than Deer Valley.

6. Jackson Hole, Wyo: The caliber of skiers in Jackson is like at Squaw. Everywhere you turn around, there’s a pro skier or someone you’ve seen in magazines or movies.

7. A-Basin, Colo: You go to A-Basin to ski, not to get pampered. It’s a no-frills resort, but oohhh, the skiing!

8. Killington, Vt: Killington is a must in the spring. There’s a huge bar at the bottom of the mogul course. You ski, hit the bar, ski—only kidding, but it’s really fun.

9. Hunter Mountain, N.Y.: Hunter skiers are a breed of their own. The mountain has the best people watching anywhere, and there are so many people, it’s hysterical.

10. Mammoth Mountain, Calif: It’s a beautiful area with amazing terrain and the caliber of skiers is outstanding.

11. Whistler-Blackcomb, Canada: These are the best resorts in the world. The  diversity of terrain is phenomenal and the scenery is tops.

12. Mont Tremblant, Canada: There’s so much personality here, but it’s bittersweet for me. I won a World Cup, but I blew out my knee.

By the way, if you do make it to Deer Valley, consider lunch or dinner in the St. Regis Bar & Lounge or Executive Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s J&G Grill, try these more moderate dishes. When dining with the 1% but living on the income of the 99%, two must-orders available in either location are the black truffle pizza with fontina cheese ($12) and the steamed shrimp salad with local greens and avocado champagne dressing ($12). For uberindulgence, pair either with the signature 7452 Mary, a bloody Mary distinguished by a wasabi-celery foam and named for the hotel’s elevation.

Photo: St. Regis Deer Crest Slopeside from Starwoods
Bahrke photo by Hilary Nangle