Europeans find lift line manners a bore. Shoving and pushing are widely practiced, though not with the vigor of a few years ago. Some skiers will even say “pardon me” as they squeeze past. Don’t let ’em.

Until around the mid-1980s, the casual attitude of the European resorts was that simply marking the treeless slopes with an occasional pole with a colored top indicating the degree of difficulty and the number of the trail, was all any skier really needed. So, ski them. Only a few trails were actually groomed.

On recent trips to the cluster of resorts at Chamonix in France, however, as well as the resorts of Italy and the magnificent Arlberg, we found a tremendous upgrading of trail maintenance. Miles of trails now are groomed, with growling snowcats roaring day and night. The one-time preponderance of T-bars and Pomas has largely been replaced with chairlifts, including high-speed detachable quads.

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