MARCH 24, 2023 | WRITTEN BY Matt McGinnis

Lead Image: Kiss the globe Mikaela, you’ve earned it. Scroll down to read the lengthy list of accolades and accomplishments Mikaela Shiffrin secured in her final two races of the season. Image: Mikaela Shiffrin on Facebook

#1: The 2024 SkiEssentials Ski and Snowboard Test is in the Books!

Top Five Fridays March 24, 2023: 2024 Ski Test Image

A quick behind the scenes look from day 1 of our 2024 Ski and Snowboard Test. Stay tuned later this summer when we release our test results from over 550 pieces of equipment!

Hello, and welcome to Top Five Fridays, the March 24, 2023 edition! We’ve got a particularly exciting week on our hands this time around as we get to kick things off by talking about one of our favorite topics: ourselves! We’re kidding, of course, but seriously: we’re extremely excited to share the news that we’ve just completed our 7th annual ski and snowboard test event here at Stowe. Every year our three day long test grows in size, with more testers, more brands, and more gear being demoed. This year was no exception as we welcomed over 100 testers to ski and ride on over 450 models of skis and over 100 models of snowboards from 20 ski brands and 9 snowboard brands (4 of which were new to the test). With testers tasked with riding about 10 products per day, it’s safe to say that a lot of runs were taken, a lot of media was created, and a lot of opinions were formed.

As for the weather, we were treated to a variety of conditions which made testing particularly effective. On Tuesday, the first day of the test, we experienced everything from firm corduroy in the morning, to sun softened snow, to even a bit of fresh snowfall on top of refrozen groomers by the end of the day. On Wednesday, the first few laps were firm before the snow loosened up, giving way to a perfect spring day with warm air and sunshine. While Spring slush isn’t exactly powder, it did provide a good opportunity to get on some wider gear. Finally, day three brought quality snow along with some rain and fog, allowing us to really lean into the “forgiveness” rating of each ski and board.

Now that the on-snow testing is done, we’ll be working behind the scenes over the course of the next few months, compiling reviews and media to bring you the most comprehensive ski and snowboard tests in the industry. While we’re known for our weekly ski reviews, the ski and board tests give us the chance to share knowledge about next year’s gear in a slightly different way. While the reviews are expertly written by our in-house experts, the ski and snowboard test is a combination of experiences from over 100 testers with a range of backgrounds and styles. Our goal with this is to create a database of knowledge in which you can explore our tester profiles, discover a few athletes who you relate to, and then read their thoughts on relevant skis and boards. This allows you, the consumer who’s about to invest in new gear, to learn more about the skis you’re interested in through the lens of someone just like you. Rather than being limited to the traditional “beginner”, “intermediate”, and “expert” labels, this approach allows us to share thoughts from more niche ski personalities, like “playful expert”, “former ski racer”, “progressing intermediate”, etc, etc.

In addition to the wide range of comments and thoughts about each ski and snowboard we test, we also include an incredible amount of media in an effort to really tell the story of each ski and board. Along with the written content, each piece of equipment’s test page includes multiple photos, a roughly 5 minute long video pairing technical details of the ski or board along with action footage and closeup studio shots highlighting details of the ski. Like we said, it’s the most comprehensive ski and snowboard test in the industry, and if you’re in the market for new skis or snowboards next year, we’d highly recommend giving it a look before making any decisions. To get a preview of what to expect, simply check out our 2023 Ski Test and 2023 Snowboard Test, and we’ll circle back on this towards the end of the summer when the 2024 tests are published.

#2: The 2022/2023 FIS World Cup Season Comes to a Close, But Not Before Mikaela Shiffrin Breaks More Records:

For the last time this year, watch Mikaela Shiffrin win a race, and break a record.

Alright alright, enough self congratulatory nonsense, let’s get on with the news we know most of you are dying to hear: results from the final week in ski racing. As you’ll recall, when we left off last week, there were just two races left in the season for both the women and the men: a giant slalom, and a slalom race. As you’ve likely heard, the week went incredibly well for the sport’s top athlete, but before we break down Shiffrin’s list of accolades, let’s start by simply recapping the results.

On the women’s side of things, the slalom was the first of two races, and one in which Mikaela Shiffrin came in third place. Also competing, but finishing just outside the points, was Paula Moltzan who finished in 16th. Despite not earning points in that particular race, her contributions over the course of the season helped Team U.S.A. earn an incredible accomplishment: they won the FIS Nation’s Cup for slalom for the first time ever. This award is given to the nation with the highest overall points in any discipline, and while Shiffrin’s first place overall finish led the way, Moltzan’s 7th place finish overall sealed the deal. Between the two athletes, 1,242 slalom points were earned over the course of the season. Following the slalom race this week, was the final race of the season for the women: a giant slalom. In that race, Shiffrin put an exclamation point on her season with another gold medal, while Paula Moltzan finished in 15th. We’ll circle back with more details on what this win means for Shiffrin in just a second, but for now we’ll just issue a quick congratulations to both athletes on a successful season.

On the men’s side of things, the season unfortunately ended without any results of note. While the team had a reasonably successful season on the whole, we’ll turn our focus to off season training from here in hopes of an even better 2023-2024. Congratulations to the men’s U.S. Ski Team for all of their results this year.

Ok, let’s get back to Shiffrin. Across her bronze medal in slalom and gold medal in giant slalom, Mikaela set or tied a number of new records. With her bronze medal in the slalom race, Shiffrin tied Lindsey Vonn’s record for the most FIS World Cup podiums for a female athlete, with 137 total podiums. At the time, that gave Shiffrin an approximate podium rate of 55%. On the men’s side of that record, Marcel Hirscher has the second most podiums of all time, with 138, while Ingemar Stenmark leads all racers with 155. Keeping these numbers in mind, let’s talk about what it meant for Shiffrin’s resume when she won the giant slalom race. With that victory, Shiffrin surpassed Lindsey Vonn’s podium record, and tied Hirscher’s, making her tied for the second-most podiuming FIS World Cup ski racer of all time. Now, once again, she’ll be chasing Ingemar Stenmark for the all time record. Additionally, the win marked her 21st giant slalom gold medal, making her the most successful women’s giant slalom skier ever. While the globes were already secured, it also put the final stamp on the season’s results, which brought Shiffrin the slalom crystal globe, giant slalom crystal globe, and overall crystal globe. This was the second straight year Shiffrin won the overall globe, and being the fifth one she’s won, it puts her amongst just four other skiers to have won 5 overall globes. As you can tell from this smattering of accolades and accomplishments, this season will undoubtedly go down as a highlight year in Shiffrin’s career. Now, she’ll do the media circuits for a few weeks before likely taking a short break, only to resume training this summer. For now, we’ll send you over to Ski Mag to read more about the accomplishments resulting from her final race as well as her historic season.

#3: Endless Winter? California Resorts Push Operating Plans into July:

The party's just getting started at Palisades Tahoe, where the resort just announced plans to remain open through at least July 4th!

In other ski news this week, we caught multiple reports of ski resorts planning to extend their seasons well into the summer months. While it should come as no surprise as we’re all well aware of the historic amount of snow that’s fallen in California, it’s still exciting to read official announcements. In the Tahoe region, Vail Resorts’ Northstar, Kirkwood, and Heavenly have all announced extensions to their operating seasons, with Northstar remaining open until 4/30, Heavenly until 5/7, and Kirkwood until 5/14. The real news from this area though is the news from Palisades Tahoe, who announced that they will remain open through July 4th.

Headlining the list of operating season extensions however, has to be Mammoth Mountain in California, who announced that they will remain open at least through the end of July. That would mean the resort could potentially operate into August, which would be only the third time in its history that that’s happened, and could ultimately make this the longest operating season on record for them. We’ll keep you updated on this story as time rolls on, but for those of you wondering where you’ll be able to ski well after the snow in your area has melted, you can go ahead and put Mammoth on your list.

#4: Alterra Mountain Company Announces New $490 Million Improvement Plan, Bringing 6 Year Investment Total to Nearly $1.5 Billion:

Alterra's promo video, outlining the plans for the "Full Steam Ahead" project in Steamboat Springs, CO.

Finally, rounding out this week’s ski news is a massive spending announcement from Alterra Mountain Company. This week, the ski resort conglomerate announced that they plan to invest $490 million across its resorts in the next year. The announcement comes on the heels of last year’s announcement that the company had already invested $1 billion in resort upgrades, nearly doubling their initial 5 year investment plan that originally called for $555 million in spending. In other words, Alterra has already invested in their resorts in a massive way, and plans to continue to do so, with a 6 year total investment of roughly $1.5 billion.

So, what exactly is Alterra planning on spending the money on? A number of upgrades to its resorts, with $400 million going into infrastructure upgrades, $50 million to construct employee housing, and $40 million going towards technology upgrades. Within that $400 million infrastructure budget is a number of projects, highlighted by the conclusion of the three year “Full Steam Ahead” project in Steamboat, CO. That project has included the addition of 655 acres of expert terrain, a new gondola, improved snowmaking, a new beginner ski area, and expansions to its base village. At Crystal Mountain, a new 25,000 square foot slopeside lodge and guest services building will be added to the slope-side beach area. In addition to Steamboat’s new quad, a number of other resorts will also be getting lift upgrades. At Winter Park Resort, the Pioneer Lift will become a 6-pack with a midstation. Mammoth Mountain’s Canyon Express and Solitude’s Eagle Express will get similar capacity upgrades, becoming 6-packs as well. Finally, Snowshoe Mountain will also get a new lift, as Powder Monkey will become a fixed grip quad.

In addition to the lift upgrades, technology upgrades, and increased employee housing, one additional spend that snuck into this package but caught our attention was the expansion of Alterra’s public ski racing courses. In the last year or so, Alterra has been quietly adding public ski racing courses to its mountains, enabling the general public to chase some gates and compete against their friends. Moving forward, they’ll partner with Mikaela Shiffrin, NASTAR, and the U.S. Ski Team to add public race courses to all of its resorts. While it may seem like a small upgrade compared to the rest of this announcement, the fact is that adding race courses to each of its resorts will give every skier who is even remotely interested in ski racing the opportunity to give it a shot in a no-risk environment. If you ask us, that’s pretty cool. To learn more about Alterra’s full investment plans, check out their official press release.

#5: And Now, Your Edits of the Week: Suede’s “Wonderfuel” is Wonderful:

Learn to Overcome Your Ski Fears with Veronica Paulsen and Jim Ryan:

Finally, Watch Mikaela Shiffrin Visit Jimmy Fallon on the Late Show:

Written by Matt McGinnis on 03/24/23