The view is best from the top. It's the moment you disembark from the chair lift that's borne you over the boulevards of snow carved with "S"-shaped grooves. Some skiers cherish the first morning vista, in the thin and freezing air, before they tighten their boots and point their twin sheaths of metal down a vertical field of white. I prefer the last run, wobbly and a little reckless, down the peak's backside at three o'clock, toward the room with a fire, a hot mug, and a bag of ice. These moments, and the many between them, inspire 60 million cumulative ski- and snowboard-days, adding up to a $3 billion businesses in the U.S.