Recreation: White Gold on the Ski Belt

"The dough at Stowe lies mostly in the snow," crooned a banjo-toting minnesinger before the inevitable open fireplace of that famed ski retreat in Vermont last week. And the same truth was self-evident in thousands of other resorts around the world from Aspen to Zermatt, where the ski slopes resembled a lavishly and gaily costumed flea circus.

This week, as skiers head snowward for the Washington's Birthday weekend, traditionally the busiest of the year, resort operators are celebrating the biggest year skiing has known since man first set out on barrel staves. Deep valleys and isolated mountainsides that only a few...

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