How and where to spot them on the slopes this season. Which one are you?
1. THE POWDER HOUND
Always on the first lifts of the day, these thrill-seekers get up at the crack of dawn in pursuit of fresh powder lines and the most dangerous drops and crevasses. If the lifts don’t start early enough then they’ll hike up on skins. Their dreams are full of big dumps and escaping avalanches.
THE GEAR Skis double the width of yours, ABS rucksack with a shovel at the ready, and a GoPro attached to their head like some arctic Teletubby.
WHERE TO FIND THEM Particular favourites are Verbier, Switzerland; La Grave, France; Jackson Hole and Big White in the USA.
2. THE SNOW BUNNY
Who cares about technique when the outfits are this good? Spot these flash fashionistas a mile off in fur-trimmed designer gear and diamantéed accessories – shopping in the boutiques, ordering Nebuchadnezzars of Cristal in the clubs, having long boozy lunches in mountaintop restaurants – sometimes even on the piste. Russians and Italians lead the field.
THE LOOK Labels from head to toe. Moncler or Lacroix ski suits, Volante skis, and a foxtail around their heads to keep designer sunglasses in place.
WHERE TO FIND THEM Superbling Gstaad, Courchevel, Zermatt, and Aspen.
3. THE PARK RAT
Find them lapping the ski parks, flying through the air or loitering around the half-pipe, leaning on a board. Enter their terrain and chances are you won’t understand them. Their vocabulary consists mainly of ‘rad’, ‘sending it’, ‘steezy’, ‘riding switch’ and a lot of ‘siiiick’. Try to avoid skiing behind them, as their twin-tip skis will leave you with a face full of snow.
THE LOOK Beards, XXXL T-shirts, jumpers that reach their knees.
WHERE TO FIND THEM Mayrhofen in Austria, where Penken Park hosts many freestyle competitions; Niseko in Japan, because it boasts two half-pipes and four terrain parks; Perisher in Australia, for seasonnaires chasing the ski season all year round.
4. THE GOOD-TIMER
Late starters; but once the mountain air and midday hair-of-the-dog has cleared their hangovers, they’re unstoppable. Hear them shouting ‘race you!’ as they hurtle past, completely out of control.
THE GEAR Ironic T-shirts (‘I’m a better skier than you’; ‘Drop cliffs not bombs’), colourful vintage onesies, or some form of fancy dress topped with a jester hat and a pair of snowblades.
WHERE TO FIND THEM? Val Thorens, specifically in Le Baramix Club, Summit or Malaysia; Les Deux Alpes for Rise Festival; the infamous Dick’s Tea Bar in Val D’Isère.
5. THE GAP-YAH GRAD
Those enthusiastic but useless chalet girls and boys with better skiwear than you. For most, it’s their first job, and it takes them all day to clean a bathroom because they’ve never done it before. They make up for being chalet-bound all week by buying rounds of Jägerbombs for everyone in the bar on their day off.
THE LOOK All the gear and no idea – smart new kit picked out by their mothers at the Ski Show or Ellis Brigham.
WHERE TO FIND THEM Primarily France, because they’ve heard of it: Val d’Isère, Méribel, L’Alpe D’Huez.
6. THE FIRST-TIMER
How hard can it be? Remember that classic Bridget Jones moment? Give them a wide berth on the piste and in the bar later, where they’re complaining about aching quads from spending all day in a snowplough.
THE GEAR Borrowed stuff. Sometimes jeans.
WHERE TO FIND THEM Holding up the poma lift queues in Les Arcs in France and Cortina in Italy.
7. THE WHIZZ KID
Children who can ski before they can walk. Those tiny bundles of skiwear zipping fearlessly, effortlessly past, snaking after their instructors and instilling in everyone they overtake a feeling of envy and inadequacy. Put it down to their low centre of gravity if it makes you feel any better.
THE LOOK Short. Numbered bibs.
WHERE TO FIND THEM Every resort in the world. You can’t escape them. Even outside the school holidays there are pre-schoolers bombing down the slopes.
8. THE INSTRUCTOR
If you’re lucky, you’ll get one of the young, handsome ones – either as an instructor or plumping himself down next to you on a chairlift – who spread their chiselled-jawed magic over the mountainside like fresh powder. A couple of decades of teaching mums to snowplough, and it’s a different story. Be warned – those goggles can hide the years well.
THE LOOK Permanent goggle tan and floppy, sun-bleached hair. Slick ski-school-branded gear.
WHERE TO FIND THEM Necking a jug of beer on the terrace when they clock off at five.
9. THE LOCAL
It takes a certain type to live in a mountain hut at such high altitudes, and as such they tend to have the constitution of mountain goats, and a wry sense of humour. They think nothing of strapping on a pair of skins and walking to the peak for a first descent and back down in time for breakfast.
THE LOOK Leathery faces, often smoking. The Italians are very hospitable and love filling you up with homemade tiramisu and grappa. The French will offer you a herbal génépi and the Austrians a schnapps. Firewater!
WHERE TO FIND THEM In the best local bars in Les Gets, Courmayeur, Stuben am Arlberg.
10. THE NANNY
Because someone has to look after the kids while the parents are busy on the slopes, in the restaurants and at the nightclubs.
THE LOOK Tight jeans and little jackets – they tend to be woefully ill-equipped for the weather. They were rather hoping for a summer season on a Greek island instead of this.
WHERE TO FIND THEM? Anywhere but the slopes. In a spa or catching rays on the restaurant terraces while their charges go whizzing around the mountainsides with a ski school (see 7). They probably don’t even know which country they’re in, let alone which resort.