Choose your dates wisely be­fore head­ing for a North Amer­i­can powder base

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Northern Hemisphere Ski Holidays - MERRY KIRK­WOOD

SKIERS and board­ers plan­ning a break in North Amer­ica should closely con­sider sea­son dates.

Most ski re­sorts in Canada and the US open for busi­ness in Novem­ber each year and then close when snow con­di­tions de­te­ri­o­rate, un­like in Aus­tralia and New Zealand, where sea­sons tend to have a de­fined end.

Aspen, Colorado, for ex­am­ple, has al­ready pro­posed new sea­son dates from Novem­ber 24 this year to April 22 next year. How­ever, dates are flex­i­ble — good snow­falls over re­cent weeks, for ex­am­ple, ex­tended the 2010-11 sea­son to the end of May.

Aus­tralian ski travel spe­cial­ists such as Mogul Ski World, Ski Ex­press, Ski Max, Stein’s World Ski Tours, Trav­elplan Aus­tralia and Value Tours of­ten cre­ate North Amer­i­can pack­ages to tie in with qui­eter pe­ri­ods, such as US and Cana­dian school terms. Trav­ellers pre­pared to book at least six months ahead can save up to 30 per cent.

Ideal win­dows for Aus­tralians plan­ning ski hol­i­days are Novem­ber to mid-De­cem­ber and from early Jan­uary to midFe­bru­ary, which are pe­ri­ods out­side US and Cana­dian school hol­i­days.

Aus­tralians par­tic­u­larly flock to ski re­sorts such as Aspen and Vail in the US and Whistler Black­comb in Canada (where Aus­tralia Day cel­e­bra­tions are hugely pop­u­lar with lo­cals and vis­i­tors alike).

In fact, we are the largest in­ter­na­tional mar­ket in many re­sorts.

From late March (post-spring break) un­til sea­son’s end is also an ideal and cost-ef­fec­tive pe­riod for Aus­tralian skiers, as slopes are of­ten quiet and the prices of ac­com­mo­da­tion and lift passes drop con­sid­er­ably, some­times by as much as 25 per cent.

Re­sorts such as Heav­enly, Squaw Val­ley, Aspen, Mam­moth, Vail, Breck­en­ridge and Win­ter Park in the US, and Lake Louise, Whistler Black­comb and Sun­shine in Canada stay open for late-sea­son spring ski­ing, pro­vid­ing plenty of choice at good prices.

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