What Country Has the Best Skiers? (Not Who You Think)
North America versus Europe, who has the best skiers? This is a debate many have wondered about. If we look at the number and quality of a country's champions, we should find an answer, right?
North America has produced excellent world champions, particularly in freestyle events like the X Games. Nordic & Alpine Europe’s rich skiing history means that many recreational skiers from these countries are of a high caliber, which makes pro skiers even better.
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4 Best Skiing Countries (& Their Best Skiers)
It can be challenging to say which country has the best skiers. A good indicator that a country has great skiers is to look at which countries have produced exceptional skiers. Now, this list isn’t definitive, but it should give you a good idea of which countries have some of the best skiers.
1. Ingemar Stenmark
Sweden is often considered one of the countries to produce some of the best skiers in the world. Being so near to a number of the best slopes definitely plays a huge role in this.
2. Marcel Hirscher & Hermann Maier
Austria is another European country to boast excellent skiers. Like in many other European countries, skiing is part of the culture here. Very long snow seasons mean Austrians are privileged enough to practice much longer than many other countries.
Marcel Hirscher is an Austrian professional skier that sits in the second spot only to Ingemar Stenmark, which is definitely no small feat. He has a staggering number of World Cup, World Championship, and Olympic wins in all forms of slalom skiing.
Hermann Maier is another excellent Austrian skier. He places in third behind Hirscher in terms of achievements. That means in terms of top winners two of the top three are Austrians. That’s a pretty good argument for Austria, isn’t it?
3. Lindsey Vonn, Simon Dumont & Shaun White
Many would argue that when it comes to freestyle snowboarding and skiing, the United States has some of the best athletes to offer. This should come as no surprise based on the immense popularity of extreme sports in the country.
X Games has played a significant role in how many athletes transition from alpine skiing to the more popular freestyle.
Some of the most notable American athletes are Lindsey Vonn, Simon Dumont, and Shaun White.
Vonn is one of the greatest female skiers of all time, with an all-time record of 20 World Cups. That’s even more wins than Ingemar Stenmark! We’ll talk about Shaun White and Simon Dumont a little later.
Canada also deserves some recognition for the immense skills its skiers have.
4. Aksel Svindal & Kjetil Jansrud
Fun fact - the word ‘ski’ originated from Norway, so it makes sense that the Norwegians are some of the best skiers in the world. Skiing is part of the culture there.
While Norway is not renowned for its ski resorts as much as its Alpine cousins, there is incredible backcountry skiing to be had.
Just like some of the other countries listed here, Norway also boasts summer skiing, which definitely plays a role in just how good the skiers can get here.
Aksel Svindal is another alpine skier with some serious talent. He is widely regarded as the country’s best alpine skier of all time. Of course, his teammate Kjetil Jansrud is also an absolutely phenomenal skier.
Who Is the Best Skier in the World?
Finding out who is the best of the best can always be a challenging task. For simplicity, we’ll use important achievements like wins in the Winter Olympics and other notable sporting events to determine an athlete's skill.
1. Lindsey Vonn - Downhill
It is fair to say that Lindsey Vonn is not only one of the greatest female skiers of all time, but one of the greatest skiers of all time in general. Her impressive career saw her net more World Cups than even Ingemar Stenmark.
While she has retired recently, people are keeping their eyes on another exceptional young American skier, Mikaela Shiffrin.
2. Simon Dumont - Freestyle
Yet another American, Simon Dumont is one of the best freestyle skiers ever.
Over his career, he has amassed 12 podiums, with four golds, two silvers, and three bronzes in different freestyle events. He also set the world quarterpipe record in 2008 with a whopping 35.5 feet of air!
3. Ingemar Stenmark - Slalom
Stenmark is widely considered one of the greatest of all time. He started at a very young age and managed to win his first national tournament at only eight years old!
Continuing his young professional career, Stenmark competed in his first World Cup at the age of 17. Thereafter, he continued a long career, racking up countless World Championship, World Cup, and Olympic wins.
4. Shaun White - Snowboarding
When it comes to who is the best snowboarder ever, it is near impossible to argue that Shaun White (USA) is not the best. This should come as no surprise as White started snowboarding at only five years old!
Shaun White is a five-time Olympic athlete and has managed to accrue three Olympic Gold Medals in the halfpipe competition. He also holds a world record, for holding the most X Game and Olympic gold medals by a snowboarder.
If that’s not enough, he has even managed to score the first-ever perfect score of 100 points in the Winter X Games.
Is Europe or USA Better for Skiing?
There are many considerations to take into account when answering a question like this, making it quite tough to answer. The best way answer is a bit of a cop-out, but it truly depends on what you’re looking for.
North American resorts generally have more snow and it can be argued that the snow is better - Utah claims to have the best powder in the world after all.
An aspect Europe definitely beats North America over is the interconnectedness of its slopes. In most instances, you have the ability to ski in other towns and experience more diverse cultures. You can even ski between countries in some places.
Where Is the Best Snow in the World?
Many would argue that North America boasts the best snow on the planet. Places like Colorado and Utah are world-renowned in their snow quality. In the case of Utah, they receive about 250 inches of snowfall every year, with snow quality usually being exceptional.
That isn’t to say that snow elsewhere on the globe isn’t phenomenal. Niseko in Japan averages a colossal 595 inches per year of snow.
In Europe, Austria is renowned for having some of the best white stuff. This shouldn’t come as a surprise given how many Austrians end up as excellent skiers.
It’s always tough awarding the prize of the best anything, and determining which country has the best skiers is no exception. Based purely on the number of world-renowned champions a country has, Austria and the USA are clearly two forces to be reckoned with.
That being said, other European countries like Norway, Sweden, France, and Italy all have rich histories with excellent athletes. The average citizen in these countries will also be much more at home on the slopes than in any other country, which definitely skews the results to them.