[splitpost intro="true" numbers="true"]
The problem with our sports is that they require mountains and the sad reality of life is that most of us don't live within easy distance of the slopes.
Now some of you will suck that fact up and accept that your time on the mountains will forever be limited, but those of you who really love the pow know that this is merely a challenge to be overcome.
We've put together our top 10 locations that'll have you breathing in the mountain air and let you the hit slopes to your hearts content. So get your stuff packed, your estate agent on the phone and get moving to our top 10 cities for weekend riding.
[part title="Innsbruck, Austria"]
Perhaps no other city in the world is surrounded by as much rideable terrain as Innsbruck. The Austrian city is surrounded by eight ski areas, with the closest - Nordkette - a swift 20 minutes from the city centre by cable car.
And Nordkette is no city novelty, boasting some of the steepest runs in Europe with gradients of 70 per cent (the HariKari run). If you want to work 9 to 5 and ride, Innsbruck, which has twice hosted the Olympic Winter Games, is your best bet.
[part title="Vancouver, Canada"]
With Whistler only two hours away from the vibrant Vancouver, the capital of British Columbia has long been a home for workers who feel the need to be weekend warriors.
Closer to the city, Cypress Mountain is just one of three ski areas within Vancouver's city limits. Like Whistler it was a venue at the 2010 Winter Olympics, hosting the freestyle competitions.
As such, the parks are state-of-the-art and complement the 52 trails, eight lifts and 19 km of Nordic trails, which all lie within a half-hour drive from downtown Vancouver.
[part title="Calgary, Canada"]
With a vibrant job market boosted by the oil and gas boom, Canada’s Calgary offers city living and work opportunities with some of Canada’s best resorts within drivable distance.
Sunshine is 90 minutes, Lake Louise just under two hours, and Kicking Horse and Fernie a three hour mission. Importantly, the roads are easy drives with traffic not being an issue.
The petrol money may add up, but the world-class resorts and huge amounts of snow mean all is forgotten when you strap in. The weekend will be your best friend.
[part title="Ljubljana, Slovenia"]
Arriving in Ljubljana, it’s possible to be on chair within half an hour given the Krvavec resort is a 15-minute drive away.
With an altitude of 1950-metres, 32 km of piste, three main summits, and a guaranteed 100 days of the year of snow, the smooth alpine meadows offer plenty of shred potential.
The picturesque city — the capital of Slovenia — is small but vibrant with a relaxed atmosphere, plenty of old world charm and some fun nightlife. It’s a slightly random choice for working and riding, but for the adventurous, the combination works.
[part title="Oslo, Norway"]
Seeing skis on the metro is commonplace in Norway’s capital, with the Tryvann Vinterpark just a 30-minute subway ride from downtown Oslo. Here you’ll find seven lifts, 14 slopes, 381-metres of vertical, and a terrain park as good as any in central Europe.
Oslo is one of the few places where it’s possible to combine the buzz of a thriving capital city with incredible riding, fresh air and tranquil forests.
The season lasts from late November until April, with high-tech snow-cannons ensuring snow coverage, and every weekend you can head to the hill and join some of Norway's top freestyle talent in the city and snow funpark.
[part title="Stockholm, Sweden"]
Hammarby Backen, the ski resort that overlooks the Swedish capital, has a well-maintained terrain park and a few downhill pistes that stay open well into the night.
The hill only came into existence in 1990, as a result of the collection of Stockholm’s refuse — not that you’d know that now.
The former rubbish tip now offers spectacular views of the city, so impressive it’s worth a trip up there even without your board and bindings. For us though, the view is way better when we're hucking it off a kicker in the well-kept park.
[part title="Reykjavik, Iceland"]
There was a time in Iceland — before the local banks started taking on trillions of debt for the sheer fun of it — when Iceland was so expensive you had to raise a mortgage just to buy a beer.
The banking and currency crisis changed all that, and now a session at Bláfjöll, the country's largest ski area and only a 30-minute drive from Reykjavik makes both economic and shred sense. No wonder it is a weekend warrior wonderland.
It has 15 lifts serving the wide, open slopes, with three miles of floodlit trails and a cool terrain park. As for après, well Reykjavik is legendary for its nightlife, and these days a few drinks after a killer day snowboarding won’t break the bank.
[part title="Sapporo, Japan"]
Sapporo is Hokkaido's capital and one of its newest cities (in 1857 it had a population of seven, now it's two million) that has five ski areas nearby, all famed for their powder.
Teine Highland is the largest, and closest, with six lifts, 450-metres of vertical, and some of the best and steepest tree runs on the planet.
Which is crazy given it’s just a 45 minute train ride from central Sapporo. A bit further out is Kokusai, which handles a massive 18-metres of powder per season, and whose off-piste remains largely untouched by the locals.
[part title="Salzburg, Austria"]
While this Austrian city is famed for its graceful Baroque architecture and musical history, it’s the access to high-quality shred that we care about.
You can choose to mooch through Mozart’s birthplace, or instead head to Zell am See or the neighbouring resort, Kaprun, collectively known as the Europa Sport Region.
Zell offers a ridiculous expanse of quality pistes, while Kaprun’s Kitzsteinhorn Glacier, at 3,200m is known for its off-piste riding. Smaller resorts are located just outside Salzburg, but if you are working all week, its Zell or Kaprun where you'll want to blow off some steam.
[part title="Barcelona, Spain"]
Many Spanish and Andorran resorts are close to Barcelona, giving you the chance to live in one of the most happening cities in the world and then ride all weekend.
It’s what’s known as the icing on the cake. Day trips can be done to Masella, La Molina and Grandvalira in Andorra, all a leisurely half day’s drive from Barcelona.
While Spain’s best resort Baqueira-Beret is a mission, the four hour trip is always worth it. In general, the resorts close to Barcelona have great snow, uncrowded pistes and short lift queues. The Pyrenees also have high altitudes and a low tree line, so the free ride trails and off-piste is pretty good too.