Northern hemisphere ski season 2016-17: What's hot in US, Canada and Japan

As the sun sets this weekend on another Australian ski season it is time to look north of the equator for the next snow fix. From new resorts to mega takeovers the northern hemisphere ski and snowboard scene has a lot going on for their upcoming season.

Vail bought Whistler back in August which sent the industry into a spin. The good news for Mountain Collective pass holders is Whistler remains on the pass for this season but will become part of the Epic Pass for 2017-18. Skiers at Whistler this year can expect a rejuvenated Roundhouse on slope dining and a new Ollie's Grilled Cheese stand at Olympic Station.

Utah welcomes a new ski resort this winter. Whisper Ridge had a soft opening last year and this year is set for an official opening with even more terrain. The "resort" is cat-accessed backcountry via eight custom cats that can take 12 skiers each to over 285 square kilometres of skiable terrain. The resort also has glamped-up yurts for overnight stays.

Sun Valley Idaho will welcome a new hotel, the Limelight Ketchum, the big brother to the Limelight Aspen. The boutique hotel has been purpose-built and comes with an apres lounge and outdoor plaza, hot tubs and swimming pool, complimentary shuttle for getting around town, fitness centre and ski and snowboard store.

Jackson Hole Wyoming will launch the Sweetwater Gondola to take skiers and boarders above the Casper restaurant and push intermediates away from the advanced skier tramline. The gondolas seat eight people and can transport 2000 people an hour.

The iconic Wyoming ski town will welcome more flights into Jackson than before with direct routes from 12 major US cities, including Dallas for those flying with Qantas from Sydney. It gets even better with the launch of Ski Free at Christmas at Jackson. If you start your holiday on or before December 23 you'll earn two free ski days when you book a six-night lift and lodge package through Jackson Hole Central Reservations.

There will be two new lifts at Big Sky in Montana, a high-speed quad and a fixed-grip triple chair. Skiers and boarders in Oregon haven't been forgotten either. Mt Bachelor will flick the switch on the Cloudchaser Lift, a high-speed quad detachable that will increase the resort's skiable terrain by 635 acres.

If you want more burn for your turn in Vail's back bowls then the new Sun Up Express will transport skiers in a mere four minutes to the advanced terrain in Sun Up Bowl.

Winter Park gets back on the ski map this season with the relaunch of the Denver Winter Park Express train. The train takes skiers and boarders from Denver direct to Winter Park in two hours so you can be on the slopes while everyone else is still in traffic on the I-70.

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In Japan, Niseko will have two new chairlifts – one is a "chondola" or a hybrid of chairlift and glass-bottomed gondola cabins – and both will be operating from Niseko Village Resort on the Hilton and Green Leaf side of the mountain.

A new ski in-ski out hotel in Niseko Hirafu will throw open their doors this season. The AYA Niseko boasts 300 beds, onsen hot springs, cafe, restaurant and day spa.

St Anton's Arlberg region is set to become one of the biggest interconnected ski areas in the world with four new lifts that will link Stuben, St Anton, Zurs and Lech with Flexenbahn across groomed terrain. This will create a ski area boasting 350 kilometres of ski runs with 87 lifts.

WINNER OF THE SKI MAX WHISTLER INSTAGRAM COMPETITION

We've tallied up your votes and the winner of this year's #misssnowitall competition is Elise Young.

 

A photo posted by Elise Young ✌ (@elise_young_) on

Elise and her plus one will fly from Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne to Vancouver, bed down for two nights at the harbourside five-star Pan Pacific Hotel and take in the city's sights, including the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and FlyOver Canada. Then spend five nights in luxury at the Westin Resort and Spa at Whistler Blackcomb with ski lift passes for two for the week. All thanks to Ski Max Holidays.

To take another look at this year's finalists, click through the gallery at the top of the page.

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