The Essential Skiing Guide: The rest of the world

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The Independent Travel

About one in 20 Britons finds their way to North America each winter. Although the happy days of two dollars to a pound are long gone, and getting in to the US (if not Canada) is ever more laborious, the benefits of making the effort are numerous. Uncrowded slopes and light fluffy powder are the norm, as is spacious accommodation.

American resorts usually offer great childcare and friendly locals, with high standards of service and affordable après ski – in contrast to some well-known destinations in the Alps. You even get an airline baggage allowance that's adequate to cover your ski kit.

We keep heading to Japan, too. It seems that skiing in deep powder in a refreshingly different culture, but with the reassuring presence of Aussie ski bums, is worth the 12-hour flight to Tokyo, plus the transfer.

Can't make it to the slopes this winter? There are 100 resorts where the season begins in June 2011. Try Australia, Argentina, Chile, Lesotho and New Zealand – where the last, Turoa (0064 7 8923738; mtruapehu. com), is still open.

Did you know?

Revelstoke in British Columbia recently overtook the 2010 Winter Olympic venue, Whistler, for having North America's biggest lift-served vertical drop at 1,713m (5,620ft).

Snowmaking, which is now a key feature at thousands of ski resorts worldwide, began in the eastern US in the 1950s, a by-product of an agricultural fruit-chilling machine.

Japan has some 600 ski areas. Downhill skiing was introduced there nearly a century ago by Hannes Schneider, a pioneer of the sport from Austria's Arlberg. He eventually settled in Cranmore, US.

There are ski areas in most US states, even Arizona and New Mexico, and you can ski on Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

Best resorts for novices

Banff, Canada (001 403 7624421; banffnorquay .com); Steamboat, United States (001 970 8796111;; Sunday River, US (001 207 8243000; sundayriver .com); Sun Peaks, Canada (001 250 5787222; sunpeaksresort .com); Winter Park, US; (001 970 7264118;

For intermediates

Big White, Canada (001 250 765 3101;; Lake Louise, Canada (001 403 522 3555; skilouise. com), Mont Sainte Anne, Canada (001 418 827 4561; mont-sainte-anne. com); Mammoth, US (001 760 934 2571;; The Canyons, US (001 435 649 5400;

For experts

Breckenridge, Colorado, US (001 970 453 5000;; Fernie, Canada (001 250 423 4655;; Jackson Hole, US (001 307 733 2292;; Kicking Horse, Canada (001 250 439 5400; kickinghorseresort .com); Niseko, Japan (0081 136 342334;

For families

Marmot Basin, Canada (001 780 852 3816;; Mont Sutton, Canada (001 450 538 2339;; Revelstoke, Canada, (001 250 814 0087; revelstoke mountain; Smugglers Notch, US (001 802 644 8851;; Sugarloaf, US (001 207 237 2000;