It’s time to proudly sport your “red, white and blue,” wave those flags high and practice your best “U.S.A!” shouts, because the major international winter sporting event that occurs once every four years starts today! As we all know, Sochi Russia is the host of this year’s Games, and there’s sure to be some incredible feats of athleticism to behold. From ski jumpers that defy gravity to figure skaters that leave us awestruck, we just can’t seem to get enough of this event.

And while we love to watch the skiing, skating, jumping and luging on TV, wouldn’t it be great if we could join in the fun? Well, obviously we can’t fly to Sochi and join in on the actual games, but right here in California, we have plenty of activities that will make you feel like a winter champion. (And yes, we realize there is a drought, but we’re letting our imaginations run wild today, OK?)

Take a look at four California destinations that are perfect for your own personal winter adventures. There may not be gold medals given out, but we guarantee your good time will equal its weight in gold.

1. Big Bear

Mountain Creek Big Bear and South Peak Sunday February 28th, 2010

Just 100 miles outside of Los Angeles is one of the greatest places in California (or anywhere) to live out your winter sport dreams. Swoosh down 1800 vertical feet at Snow Summit and Bear Mountain or get extreme with more than 200 park features like rails and jumps. For those visitors who want the thrill of bobsledding, Magic Mountain’s Alpine Slide has two quarter-mile long cement tracks complete with long straightways and chilling (but fun) high-bank turns. Prices: Big Bear Mountain Lift Tickets/Snow Summit Lift Tickets/Alpine Slide Prices.


2. Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe View from the Top of the Lift

If you’re serious about your winter sports, you want to head to Lake Tahoe. This is where the major powder falls (around 400 inches annually) and where the expert skiers and boarders shred it up. Amid the impossibly gorgeous scenery, you’ll find seven ski mountains in the area, including Northstar, Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows and Heavenly—each as challenging as you want. As Squaw Valley’s motto reads: “Skiing Has a Soul. This Is Where It Lives.” Check out the Lift Ticket Prices here. 

3. Mammoth 

Mammoth Mountain

Just four hours from Sacramento and five hours from Los Angeles is Mammoth Mountain, a renowned ski resort set in the Inyo National Forest. Thanks to its location in a shallow gap of the Sierra Crest, annual snowfall in the area is typically about 400 inches—which translates into amazing skiing and boarding for Shaun White-wannabes. The terrain spans over 3,500 acres and includes the world-famous “Super Pipe” and “Super Duper Pipe,” which gold medalist White used for his pre-Olympic practice.  Check out prices and packages now.

4. Yosemite Park Curry Village Ice Skating Rink


If skating is your sport, Yosemite Park Curry Village Ice Skating Rink is your ultimate destination. This spot has been a major draw for skaters since the 1930s and for good reason: there’s nothing like it! Each skate session lasts two and a half hours, which is plenty of time to glide across the ice and take in the majesty of Glacier Point and Half Dome. When you’re done skating, stop at the nearby store and buy some s’more-making supplies as a treat. Prices available here.

Tell us where you like to show off your winter sports mastery!