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We went skiing last weekend and it was awesome! We went to Santa Fe, NM, and I am still dreaming of the white powdery snow, the insanely blue sky, beautiful views down the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and chasing down the slopes after my friends. While I was sorting through pictures, I started thinking about the differences between skiing in Europe and skiing in New Mexico.

Spaghetti Bolognese (via Wikimedia Commons)

Well, for one thing, the food is different. Growing up, we’d usually go to a ski resort in Italy called Plan de Corones. So for me, a ski lunch includes spaghetti, sauce, lasagna, Knoedel (potato dumpling), etc. I didn’t even know how much I associated skiing with that type of food until I went skiing in Ruidoso, NM, for the very first time and had the choice of burger, fried chicken, or chili. What?! No pasta?? Of course there’s nothing wrong with any of these foods, but they were so not what I expected! I really had been looking forward to a big bowl of fresh Spaghetti Bolognese. What a disappointment that was… On the flip side, I can totally get down with a delicious New Mexico breakfast burrito with potatoes, egg, and green chili (as opposed to the typical light Italian breakfast of coffee, bread rolls, jam, and maybe, maybe some cold cuts). We found the best breakfast place in Santa Fe right when we were leaving… more about that in another post though.

See any safety bars? Me neither! (via Wikimedia Commons)

And the lifts? I couldn’t believe that so many chair lifts here don’t have restraining bars! In fact, I’d never been on a chair lift without one until I skied in New Mexico. I still can’t believe that in a country that’s known for suing companies and individuals like crazy these bars aren’t mandatory everywhere. On every little household electronic thing you find tons of warnings about what NOT to use them for, but a lift that carries you up to 10-15 meters in the air has no safety bar? Unbelievable! Plus, I always enjoy that you can rest your legs in the lifts that do have the safety bars 🙂 There also seem to be many more types of lifts in Italy and Austria like gondolas and T-bars. Here it’s mainly chair lifts I think. But that difference might be due to the difference in size of resort. The resorts we’ve been to here tend to be much smaller.

View from Plan de Corones (via Wikimedia Commons)

Lodging is another difference.  All the resorts I have been to in Europe had lodging options right at the base of the mountain, pretty much your typical ski in/ ski out resorts. Two of the ones I have been to in New Mexico (Ski Apache & Ski Santa Fe) both require a 30 – 40 minute drive up the mountain in the morning. It really isn’t that bad and especially in the case of Santa Fe totally worth it, but it is a different experience. It sure is nice to be able to get into your ski gear, fall out the door, and onto the slopes. On the other hand, we really enjoyed being able to eat out in downtown Santa Fe in the evenings where I did get lots of delicious Italian food after all 😉

The views are different too. From what I have experienced, the resorts in Italy and Austria are in bigger mountain ranges. So, when you’re up on the mountain and look around you, you see more & taller mountains. In New Mexico it doesn’t seem uncommon to be on top of the tallest mountain in that region. So instead of seeing gorgeous mountain tops above you, you see deep valleys below you. Either way it’s beautiful, so no complaints here!

Skiing is so much fun! (via Wikimedia Commons)

So, yeah, there are a few differences, but it is just as much fun here than it is there! How couldn’t it?! The basics are the same everywhere: skiers and snowboarders are having a blast enjoying the snow, the trails, lunch in the sun, speeding down the mountain, and maybe toasting the day with an après-ski drink in the hot tub. Prost and Cheers!

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  • I really enjoyed your post. I have never skied in Europe so I have no reference but found your perspective very interesting. I didn’t read about the differences in the snow? Was the snow the same or different?

    • Sabrina says:

      Thanks!! Good question about the snow…. you know, I thought about it, and I really don’t think there’s much of a difference. It’s so weather dependent no matter where you are. We’ve been to resorts here and had great snow one year and horrible slush the next and the exact same happened before in Europe. I think the main difference is that many European resorts are much bigger with larger vertical drops. So, there’s a greater chance that the highest runs can still be great when the lower ones are bad. Since many resorts in the Southwest have much less altitude differences within one resort, it’s usually bad everywhere if it’s bad that year. Does that make sense?

  • Laurel says:

    Very interesting read. Unfortunately I haven’t been skiing in Europe yet due to a knee injury and I haven’t been skiing in New Mexico either, but it sounds similar to skiing in Canada. I’ve done a lot of skiing and I still like the resistant bars, not sure why so many lifts don’t have them.
    Laurel recently posted..One of the Biggest Challenges of Expat Living

    • Sabrina says:

      I’ve never skied in Canada, but I would imagine it to be much more like the bigger resorts in Europe I think. My cousin lived close to Whistler for a while and he loved it there!

      Resistant bars just make me feel safer – especially when wind comes up. But it also gives you a chance to relax your legs without the added weight of board or skis hanging on them… Hope your knee gets better soon and you can give some European skiing a try. I’m sure you’d like it!

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