Park City, Utah
Hang out with the Sundance Film Festival's rebellious offspringthe lower-wattage film festivals that run concurrently across town in Park City. First, score some seats at the 12th Slamdance Film Festival (January 1927; 323-466-1786, www.slamdance.com), which was hatched by filmmakers who were rejected by Sundance and is dedicated to showcasing work by first-time directors. Or catch some free viewings at the six-year-old X-Dance Action Sports Film Festival (January 2024; www.x-dance.com), where you can see action-sports films ranging from skating to surfing to motocross. In all the excitement, don't forget to bring your sticks so you can hit Park City Mountain Resort's Jupiter Bowl. Preening Hollywood types don't tend to ski.
This January 2022, watch the world's top skiers try to survive the world's most unforgiving downhill course, above Kitzbühel. Austria's Hahnenkamm Race, now in its 66th edition and 39th year on the World Cup, has created such heroes as Franz Klammer, who won the event a record four times. The knife-edged derring-do of racers is breathtaking: If the 260-foot jump in the "mousetrap" doesn't send these shrink-wrapped huck dolls skittering, there's still the unsettling prospect of catching an edge while hurtling at nearly 90 miles an hour through the Zielschuss Kompression. www.hahnenkamm.com
Even if the sight of motocross bikes launching 70-foot gap jumps to the thump of rap music doesn't twist your throttle, Winter X Games 10 shouldn't be missed: It's the best party in Aspen. January 2831, more than 200 athletes compete at Buttermilk Mountain in disciplines like slopestyle, superpipe, and snowmobile snow-cross. While 70,000 people gawk at the high-fliers at Buttermilk, the slopes of Ajax and Snowmass are often less crowded. At night, tens of thousands converge on Aspen's Victorian streets, where the bars overflow. 800-525-6200, www.aspensnowmass.com
Chatter Creek, British Columbia
By late January, the heart of British Columbia is on its way to another 30-foot winter, so head on up to snowcat-ski 60 miles north of Golden at Chatter Creek Mountain Lodgesa six-year-old operation that's already created a buzz among Bombardier aficionados. Chatter Creekowned and operated by four former heli-loggers who felled trees to build a 9,200-square-foot lodge in a single summeroffers a white-collar powder-skiing experience (tricked-out snowcats, massages, fancy lettuce on your dinner plate) with a blue-collar feel (snowmobiles, pool tables, canned beer). Three-day trips start at about $1,350; 250-344-7199, www.chattercreekcatskiing.com.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
According to snow geek Tony Crocker, the Tetons usually have the best snow conditions in January, when colder temps keep the white stuff fluffy. This makes it a perfect time to attend the January 2629 Jackson Hole Steep and Deep Camp, where you can hone your high-angle techniques. Each morning, small groups of four to six skiers get on the resort's early tram and hit the mountain hard, learning how to deal with tight gullies, execute crux moves, and billy-goat their way out of trouble. The $820, four-day clinic includes instruction, lunches, lifts, two dinners, parties, and video analysis. 800-450-0477, www.jacksonhole.com
Lake Tahoe, California
A hard-skiing winter isn't complete without pulling up a chair(lift) to the all-you-can-eat buffet that is Lake Tahoe in winter. Surrounding the lake, or a short drive away, are 15 resorts. The wild card, says Tony Crocker, is California's snowfall variability, which is among the highest in the West. So rent a car and follow the most auspicious snow reports. As a general rule, Tahoe's north shore is a better bet for higher snowfall, says Crocker. Translation: Think places like Squaw Valley USA and Northstar-at-Tahoe, with its newly revamped base village. With the most snowfall (550-plus inches) in Tahoe, Kirkwood will have the best conditions if it hasn't snowed much recently. 888-824-6338, www.skilaketahoe.com