5 Top Ski Destinations for Olympic Fans
Ever since the 2010 Games in Vancouver, Winter Olympic fans have faced a drought of enticing western travel destinations. Events in Russia, South Korea, and China took place at less-inspired resorts, built just for the quadrennial competition.
In 2026 the Olympics return to one of the world’s most beloved venues, Italy’s Cortina d’Ampezzo, now paired with Milan, as the event has grown significantly since it was held here in 1956. Other changes afoot include the debut of Mandarin Oriental’s first-ever mountain resort in Cortina, the Cristallo, immediately the town’s top choice. Among things that remain the same, the women’s downhill race will once again be held on the iconic Olympia delle Tofane course, which was built for the ’56 Games and has hosted a World Cup downhill nearly every year since. In cinematic history, the same run was the location of a 007 chase in the 1981 Bond film For Your Eyes Only. The 1.4-mile course hits grades of 65 percent and for more than half a century has allowed ski fans to live out their Olympic (and James Bond) fantasies—and now it will again.
While Italy remains a top vacation destination, it isn’t the only place skiers and snowboarders can relive the great moments of Olympic history. Several venues not only allow you to tackle the same slopes raced in the Games but have other uncommon and fun Winter Olympics offerings: bobsledding, speed skating, Nordic skiing, and even biathlon. Upping the ante, there are several resorts where you can actually spend a day skiing or riding with former Olympians and get a deep insider immersion, perfect for families. To combine a luxury ski vacation with Olympic memories, these are some of the best places you can go this winter.
WINTER OLYMPIC SPORTS IN PARK CITY AND SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH
No Olympic venue combines as many remaining facilities with such a broad choice of luxury lodging and recreational skiing as greater Salt Lake City. Resort town Park City is home to the Utah Olympic Park, which offers tours and includes an extensive museum, ski jumping facility, bobsled, luge, skeleton runs, and a private ski mountain where today’s US Ski Team athletes train. You can ride a four-person bobsled piloted by a professional, many of them former competitors. At the Utah Olympic Oval in Salt Lake, you can take a rare two-hour Learn to Curl session, or lace up skates and tackle “the fastest ice on Earth,” the speed skating track that saw the most Olympic records ever.
For skiers and snowboarders, the choices are outstanding. In 2002 the ski-only resort Deer Valley hosted the slalom races, freestyle moguls, and aerials, and all except the jumps align with ski runs currently open to the public. Deer Valley has the nation’s best slate of top-tier, ski-in/ski-out luxury hotels: The St. Regis Deer Valley (marriott.com), Montage Deer Valley (montage.com), Goldener Hirsch, Auberge Resorts Collection (aubergeresorts.com), and Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley (steinlodge.com). Most uniquely, the resort partners with all of these hotels to offer an extensive Ski With a Champion program that features half- ($1,400) or full-day ($2,400) private skiing for up to six guests with multiple Olympians, including Jillian Vogtli (the first woman to throw a cork 720 in the Olympics); two-time Olympian and champion freeskier Kaylin Richardson; three-time Olympian Kris “Fuzz” Feddersen; bronze and silver medalist Shannon Bahrke; and two-time Olympian, Hall of Famer, and 37-time World Cup winner Trace Worthington. Seven-time Paralympian Chris Waddell is the winningest monoskier in history.
On the other side of town sits America’s largest ski and snowboard area, Park City Mountain Resort, which hosted the men’s and women’s giant slalom and several snowboarding events. The 2-year-old, high-touch Pendry Park City (pendry.com) is ski-in/ski-out from Canyons Base Area and ultra-luxe The Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection (aubergeresorts.com), sits outside of town but has its own transportation and ski-in/ski-out lounge. The Lodge also participates in the Deer Valley Ski With a Champion program.
Take a day trip to Snowbasin, which has no on-site lodging, but is one of the best, and least crowded, large resorts in the nation, and has hosted most of the major Alpine races, including the downhill, super-G, and combined. It was in the latter that an emerging star, 24-year-old Bode Miller, picked up his first Olympic medal, silver. He got another a week later at Deer Valley and would become the winningest male skier in American history.
NORDIC SPORTS IN WHISTLER BLACKCOMB, BRITISH COLUMBIA
The largest ski resort in North America is also the most recent Olympic venue to be constructed on the continent (2010), built in the era when preserving facilities for future public use became a priority of the Games. As a result, the resort has one of the best Nordic Centers anywhere, purpose-built for the Olympics, and one of the few places in North America you can try biathlon with actual rifles (some spots substitute air rifles), a humbling experience that immediately and clearly illustrates the difference between amateurs and world-class athletes. The Whistler Sliding Centre was also kept as a permanent fixture; there, you can bobsled, luge, or try going headfirst on a skeleton sled—a real adrenaline rush.
Snowboarders should stop at Cypress Mountain, a new resort near Vancouver that was built for the Games to host the snowboarding events. All Alpine ski races were held at Whistler, on slopes that remain open today. In addition to ripping down these steep trails, the resort offers a Ski or Ride With an Olympian program that includes more than a dozen Canadian legends, including four-time Olympian (and one-time Olympic coach) Rob Boyd, and several athletes who competed here in 2010, such as ski cross gold medalist Ashleigh McIvor. The program is full-day-only for up to four people ($1,150, or $2,500 for a gold medalist). Standout lodging options include Four Seasons Resort Whistler (fourseasons.com), Fairmont Château Whistler (fairmont.com), and Nita Lake Lodge (nitalakelodge.com).
ALPINE SPORTS AND RESORTS IN LAKE PLACID, NEW YORK
Much Olympic history came out of the 1980 Games (Lake Placid also hosted in 1932) and remarkably, more than four decades later, you can still visit all four venues: the Jumping Complex, Mt Van Hoevenberg (sliding and Nordic), Whiteface Mountain (Alpine skiing), and Olympic Center (skating). You can still skate where the “Miracle on Ice,” the US hockey upset over the USSR, occurred, or rent speed skates for the oval where Eric Heiden won an unprecedented number of individual golds, setting four Olympic records in the process. Skating history is especially rich here—it’s the same ice where Sonja Henie put figure skating on the map with her gold medal performance way back in 1932. Likewise, when you ski the slalom and giant slalom courses, you will be on the same runs where legend Ingemar Stenmark took home his golds. Bobsled and solo skeleton rides are offered, and all the venues are close to one another.
In the Northeast, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine get most of the attention, but Whiteface quietly boasts the highest vertical on the East Coast, along with an impressive 96 trails and 12 lifts. However, the Olympic trails are not well marked, so to recreate them on your own, the men’s downhill combined Cloudspin and Niagara; the women’s was on Upper Skyward; the men’s GS raced down Upper and Lower Parkways; the women’s down Upper and Lower Thruway; and both slalom races took place on Approach and Wilderness.
There are no big hotel brands such as Four Seasons or The Ritz-Carlton here, but you will find three exceptional boutique resorts: the 11-room The Point (thepointresort.com) built by the Rockefeller family and about an hour drive to the mountain; the 30-room, Arts & Crafts–tyle Lake Placid Lodge (opalcollection.com) that’s right in town; and the newer, 94-suite Whiteface Lodge (thewhitefacelodge.com). If you prefer a mix of Scandinavian, Bohemian, and mid-century modern aesthetics, check out Eastwind Lake Placid’s (eastwindhotels.com) Lushna Suite by the Chubb River, featuring a sitting area, writer’s nook, loft bed, and private outdoor deck. For simple retro in the center of town, room 621 in the historic Grand Adirondack Hotel (grandadirondack.com) offers views of the bobsled run lit up like a zigzag in the night sky.
MORE WINTER SPORT VENUES AND RESORTS
Palisades Tahoe, formerly Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows in Lake Tahoe, California, was the first US host of the Winter Games, in 1960, and has maintained the men’s and women’s downhill trails.
Switzerland’s St. Moritz is generally considered the birthplace of the ski resort and remains one of the toniest destinations in the Alps, home to the famed Badrutt’s Palace (badruttspalace.com) hotel as well as the Kulm Hotel (kulm.com), Carlton Hotel (tschuggencollection.com), and Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains (kempinski.com). Yet despite Switzerland’s rich ski history and being home to the International Olympic Committee, St. Moritz is the only place in the country where the Games have been held, in 1928 and 1948. Perhaps the most famous Olympic connection remaining is the Olympia Bob Run, the oldest bobsled track on Earth and the only one that is natural, hand-carved again from scratch every season. The 75-second public rides hit speeds up to 80 mph. Likewise, when British visitors saw the local passion for toboggans and decided to build a separate course for themselves, they created an entirely new sport. Skeleton became such a hit that it was added to the Winter Olympics for the first time in St. Moritz and the famous Cresta Run has been going strong ever since. It still allows visitors to try their hand at practice runs. The ice rink at the Kulm Hotel hosted figure skating and is open to the public, while the same is true of hockey, which was split between still open ice rinks at the Palace Hotel and Suvretta House. All the Alpine races were held at Corviglia, one of three mountains surrounding the town.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, aka “The Big One,” never hosted the Olympics, but it is one of the world’s most desirable ski resorts and has a couple of connections to the Games for visitors. The resort’s longtime ambassador, Tommy Moe, was the first American ever to win two medals in a single Winter Olympics, at Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994, with gold in downhill and silver in super-G. Today he partners with the ski resort to offer the Tommy Moe Olympic Day Experience (from $1,170 for half-day, from $1,520 for full-day), but the unique twist on this private ski-with-an-Olympian experience is that it is offered either within resort boundaries or in the adjacent backcountry (full-day only, from $1,605).