The Difference Between Skiing in Europe and North America

Strapping on some skis or a board and speeding down a snow-covered mountain is a very enjoyable experience. People from all over the globe pay homage to some of their biggest mountains during each ski season. The question is, how does skiing differ in the far corners of this globe. Here’s a list of how skiing in North America and Europe can be very different.

Apres-Ski Culture
The name alone is French, which should tell you something about the origins of this post-skiing, drinking party. There are a number of fun spots in the US and Canada where people partake in a decent ‘apres-ski’ session, but the European’s approach to food and drink are a league above. The culture reflects the different lifestyles of these two fine continents.

Crowds
While it may feel like North American resorts get quite full at times, the sheer density of the crowds is actually nothing compared to popular European resorts. The lines or ‘cues’ as Europeans usually call them are very long and even the runs themselves can be so crowded it completely changes the experience. The spaces are greater out west and will give you a more open plain of snow to carve up.

Elevation
While there are exceptions to this rule a lot of the skiing in Europe is done at a higher altitude than most North American resorts. This means that a lot of the ski slopes in Europe are a bit steeper and often above the tree line. In contrast, North American resorts are often known for glade skiing in the trees. The type of snow is also very different, with North American powder being said to be far superior.

Transportation
Another cultural reflection of the different regions is transportation  North American skiing is more oriented toward driving whereas Europe is better suited for trains and buses. This can be advantageous on both sides. Some enjoy a good mountain road trip, while others prefer to relax and be driven. North Americans tend to consume less alcohol during the skiing experience as a result.

Scenery
From a natural perspective the snow-covered peaks of North America and Europe are equally as immense and beautiful. The major difference comes in the architecture and charm of the villages nestled in the base of the ski resorts. While there are a couple towns that could be considered an exception, the quaint villages of Europe are far more visually pleasing than its western neighbor. If wandering the ski towns is your favorite aspect of skiing, Europe would be the better place for a visit.

By Alex Vere Nicoll

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