POW­DER DAYS. GUAR­AN­TEED.

PLAN­NING A SKI TRIP AT THE LAST MINUTE TAKES SPEEDY YET STRATE­GIC THINK­ING.

Skiing - - Focus - By Megan Michel­son Megan Michel­son is a for­mer Ski­ing ed­i­tor and world tele­mark freeski­ing cham­pion.

IN THE MIDST OF A DIS­MAL WIN­TER IN MY HOME­TOWN OF TA­HOE CITY LAST YEAR, I GOT AN E-MAIL THAT CHANGED EV­ERY­THING. “WANT TO GO TO JA­PAN?”

the sub­ject line read. A few friends, also fed up with the balmy North Amer­i­can snow con­di­tions, de­cided to test their luck over­seas and, for­tu­nately for me, they had room for one more. The only catch: The trip was less than two weeks out. And none of us had plane tick­ets, lodg­ing, a rental car, or any clue as to where to go. But the fore­cast. Oh, the fore­cast. Huge storm swells were head­ing to the East and Ja­pan looked slated to get buried in snow right when we’d be touch­ing down.

The only way to en­sure plen­ti­ful snow con­di­tions for a ski trip is to book at the last minute—wait for the fore­cast to line up just right, then ditch work and cob­ble to­gether a trip to that des­ti­na­tion you’ve been eye­ing. But pro­cras­ti­nat­ing can come at a cost. You risk high air­fares and scarce lodg­ing. Don’t fret. If you plan strate­gi­cally, you’ll get great deals and a lit­tle snow in the face.

Deep days in Sella Ne­vea, Italy.

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