Here’s where you can participate in Olympic winter sports—and more snow activities—throughout California
If your alpine skiing time doesn’t quite qualify for the Olympic Games or you’re seeking expert tips on the halfpipe, California offers plenty of world-class resorts and venues to channel your inner Olympian. Here, choose from a slew of guided and self-guided winter sports and offerings throughout the state.
Ski and snowboard
California has served as the training grounds for some of the most decorated ski champions, spanning Jonny Moseley, Stacey Cook, Ted Ligety, Shannon Bahrke Happe, and Julia Mancuso. In fact, Palisades Tahoe (formerly Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows)—the largest of North Lake Tahoe’s 12 downhill ski resorts—was the host of the 1960 Winter Olympics, and countless Olympians have skied and trained here.
At Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, U.S. Freeski and Snowboard teams have access to some of the most innovative training gear of all time, including the massive, 196-foot-long by 76-foot-wide Progression AirBag (one of only three in the world) to help promote slopestyle training in a setting that’s as close to real-life snow as it gets. For a refresher on form and technique, consider programs such as Chix on Stix, a two-day ski lesson-plus-retreat with pro tips from Olympian Stacey Cook.
Hannah Teter, Chloe Kim, Kelly Clark, Jamie Anderson, and Shaun White are just a few of California’s snowboard legends. Whether you’re new to the sport or a seasoned pro, choose from a slew of classes (limited to a maximum of six students) and private lessons at Northstar Burton Academy, using terrain-based teaching for crucial skills including movement, balance, speed, and turns in specially designed snow learning areas. Or learn how to navigate the only three halfpipes in SoCal at Big Bear Mountain Resort, with its legendary snow-making system for fluffy snow even on warm and sunny days.
San Jose has long been a training hub for figure skating and legendary ice stars such as Kristi Yamaguchi, Evan Lysacek, and Ashley Wagner. The 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships were held here for PyeongChang’s final selections, including Nathan Chen and brother-sister ice dance duo Maia and Alex Shibutani. Solar4America Ice at San Jose serves as the official training facility for the NHL San Jose Sharks and the San Jose State University Spartans hockey team. At this indoor ice mecca (2018 Olympic figure skater Karen Chen has performed here), sign up for skating lessons with a pro, brush up on your hockey lingo, or try your hand at curling or speed skating. At the Curry Village Ice Skating Rink in Yosemite, practice spins, twirls, and backward skating skills at the outdoor rink surrounded by snowcapped mountains.
At Tahoe Cross Country Ski Center, discover the basics of gliding, stopping, and turning with an hour-long group lesson ($60 for equipment rental and all-day trail pass), or go solo on 21 well-groomed trails ranging in difficulty from beginner to expert. In Yosemite National Park at the Badger Pass Ski Area, advanced cross-country skiers can sign up for a guided, overnight 21-mile roundtrip trek to Glacier Point, perched at 3,200 feet with views of Half Dome and Yosemite Valley.
If you are in the Los Angeles area and sliding stones on sheets of ice is more your thing, you are in luck—the city is home to the Southern California Curling Center. The 42,000-square-foot SCCC is the first ice facility dedicated to the sport of curling in Southern California, and welcomes visitors of all levels, from competitive league players to curling-curious newbies seeking private lessons. The center is also wheelchair accessible, both on and off the ice. You can also learn the sport in San Jose and Fremont at the Silicon Valley Curling Club, near Sacramento at the Wine Country Curling Club in Roseville, and throughout various California cities with the Granite Curling Club.
Fat biking, snowshoeing, and other winter activities
For other outdoor winter fun and a great workout, try fat biking (or snow biking), snowshoeing, tubing, or snowkiting. In Lake Tahoe, opt for a scenic and historical snowshoe tour of the Tahoe Truckee region and learn about local plants and wildlife with Tahoe Adventure Company tours.
At Bear Valley Cross Country & Adventure Company, located about an hour from Stockton, grab a trail map and a fat bike or snowshoes and venture to an outdoor café situated along the trails. For skate-skiing, snowkiting, and cross-country skiing, head to Royal Gorge in the Village at Sugar Bowl, where you’ll find more than 6,000 acres consisting of 80 miles of trails, six distinct track systems, and 10 warming huts.
For a chance to get up close with professional mountaineers and certified avalanche guides (think superhuman seven-time Mount Everest guides), and to find customized experiences and courses, consider Alpenglow Expeditions. With these tours you’ll gain access to off-the-beaten-path Palisades Tahoe backcountry, including National Geographic Bowl outside of Granite Chief. If you’ve always dreamed of dog sledding, you can do that too, with Wilderness Adventures Dog Sled Tours from The Resort at Squaw Creek.