Aspen Snowmass slips to #4 in Freeskier magazine’s resort rankings

Staff report
A skier maneuvers through the terrain park at Snowmass last season. The terrain parks at Snowmass and Buttermilk were rated third best by Freeskier magazine for the 2016 resort rankings.
Jeremy Swanson courtesy photo |

Aspen-Snowmass slipped a bit in Freeskier magazine’s overhauled ranking system for the top resorts in North America for 2016, but it still placed among the best.

Aspen-Snowmass gets ranked as one by Freeskier, just as Aspen Skiing Co. argues it should. (SKI magazine ranks Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and Buttermilk separately, to Skico’s chagrin.)

Freeskier ranked Aspen-Snowmass No. 4 this year. That’s down from the second spot in 2015.

Whistler-Blackcomb was number one this year. Jackson Hole was number two and Snowbird, Utah, was number three. Rounding out the top five, behind Aspen Snowmass, was Banff-Lake Louise.

“Our rankings were formulated in a completely different manner this year,” Freeskier Editor-in-Chief Henrik Lampert said in an email. “Up to this point, the rankings have been one hundred percent subjective — based purely on the Freeskier staffers’ opinions of the resorts as based on personal experiences. This time around, we opted to pull in this wide set of factors and criteria in an effort to provide at least a hint of objectivity to the rankings.”

An introduction to the rankings explains that the magazine considered 27 factors this year in addition to their well-traveled staffers’ opinions. The factors looked at resorts’ vital statistics — everything from average annual snowfall to skiable acreage to vertical drop — to off-slope features like cost of lodging, price of a burger and beer on the mountain and whether or not the resort is “weed legal” (advantage Colorado).

The criteria were weighted in importance, with Freeskier staff selections the most important factor. Aspen-Snowmass racked up a score of 83.33 on a scale established by giving the top-ranked resort, Whistler-Blackcomb, a score of 100.

The full rankings are on line at -rankings. The print edition of the magazine with the rankings is currently on newsstands.

The staff of Freeskier, based in Colorado’s Front Range, wrote that they love making an extra effort to get to Aspen-Snowmass.

“Despite its location just a couple of hours beyond some of the more accessible ski areas within the greater Denver-Boulder area — where we live and work — we find ourselves making the extra push, time and again,” the editors wrote. “The skiing is that good, the vibes are that eccentric and the party scene is that raucous.”

SKI’s annual reader survey for 2016 placed Snowmass at 6, Aspen Mountain 13 and Aspen Highlands 18. Buttermilk didn’t make the cut.

In Freeskier, Aspen-Snowmass got ranked third in Best Park in the West because of “an insane amount of features and terrain for riders of all abilities.”