Guide to better skiing: Catch a show

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The Independent Travel

Late-season skiing holidays are a hard sell for resorts in North America, where a mere two weeks' holiday leave is the norm. So during March and April, many of them organise special events in an attempt to distract skiers whose thoughts might otherwise stray towards beach resorts and Caribbean cruises. As a result, those crossing the Atlantic in the coming weeks have the chance to add some unusual spectacles to their normal skiing-holiday experience.

Late-season skiing holidays are a hard sell for resorts in North America, where a mere two weeks' holiday leave is the norm. So during March and April, many of them organise special events in an attempt to distract skiers whose thoughts might otherwise stray towards beach resorts and Caribbean cruises. As a result, those crossing the Atlantic in the coming weeks have the chance to add some unusual spectacles to their normal skiing-holiday experience.

Whistler's annual World Ski and Snowboard Festival (13-22 April) is a fairly straightforward affair, with competitive events for skiers and boarders plus catwalk fashion and showings of action-sports films. But the Aspen Spring Jam (31 March-15 April) promises one sight not seen before, that of snowboarders riding on Aspen Mountain. The ban on boarding there will be lifted at the end of March and - unless the whole thing is an April fool - the first riders will descend the mountain on the following day. The Spring Jam then continues with such familiar sports as downhill kayak racing.

One particularly unusual event took place last Saturday: the ninth annual briefcase ski race at - appropriately enough - Loon Mountain in New Hampshire, for which contestants must wear working clothes (suits, overalls or uniforms of any kind) and carry a briefcase. But that still leaves the weirdest ski-slope attraction of all, the furniture race at Big Mountain.

If the idea of watching people slide down a piste on second-hand furniture appeals to you, head for the Montana resort on 10 April. A measure of the surreal nature of the occasion is that a winner one year was a man who rode down on a grand piano, playing a tune as he did so.

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