B$Z: Tips That Make Skiing and Snowboarding More Affordable
According to snow sports industry
research, “cost” is often cited as a deterrent for those who want to learn. The
most expensive lift tickets at major resorts get their fair share of media
attention but there are also many ways to save money. The sports can be
surprisingly affordable for those who shop smart. Here are some effective
strategies to cut the costs without cutting the fun!
Lessons in January
January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. All month, U.S. venues offer great deals on learning programs taught by professional instructors. Programs vary but typically include a lesson, lift ticket and rental equipment.
The industry initiative also offers product prizes for newcomers through the #firstdayfaces social media campaign and those who help newcomers sign up for lessons through its Bring a Friend Challenge. Winning free products is a way to cut down costs. The programs run from December 1, 2015 - Feb. 28, 2016.
School Kids “Passport” Programs and More
Several states offer free lift tickets and lessons for kids in certain grades with a ski association “passport”. Grade levels and details vary from state to state but "free" is hard to beat. There is a modest processing fee for the passports. Participating states are: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and a group called Ski the Northwest Rockies. An overview is available HERE.
Another variation is something called the Resort Passport Coupon Book put together through a consortium resorts and retail shops located in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut. This year, 36 New England resorts are participating.
Rental equipment from a mountain or community shop have been options for years and programs make it possible for newcomers to use the latest products without having to make a large expenditure at an early stage. Now consumers can also rent clothing, an option that makes starting out more affordable. Two companies in the clothing rental business are getoutfitted.com and Mountain Threads. Both companies use name brand products. Consumers can select what they need and the companies will ship it to a venue of choice.
Score Cheap Tickets
The Internet makes it easier for newcomers to find less expensive lift tickets. Two web sites worth exploring are Liftopia.com and GetSkiTickets.com. These sites sell advance discount tickets to many resorts, including well known destinations and those less well known but viable venues for newcomers. Mountain Individual resorts often offer similar advance deals on their websites, including new EpicDay discounts at each of the Vail Resorts.
Befriend Season Pass Holders. Many ski areas offer “buddy tickets” and discounts to their pass holders so that they can bring a friend for free or a discount.
Befriend Another Friend. Take the Bring a Friend Challenge and you can get a free membership to the Mountain Sports Club, an on-line service that offers information and discounts on resorts, gear and more.
Ask Your Mountain. Visit ski area websites, or call your local mountain and ask about deals for both child and adult beginners. Most include rentals and lift tickets. The learntoskiandsnowboard.org web site makes it easy to find venues nearby.
Buy Gas and Groceries. SkiFreeDeals.com has Buy 1/Get 1 discounts in California, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Michigan. Fill up with gas at a participating Shell station to get a coupon. Ask your friends and look around for other Buy 1/Get 1 deals at grocery stores, Costco and ski shops.
Be Smart About Gear and Apparel
Snow sports require specialized equipment, and there are many ways to save on purchases. Many shops start sales after the Martin Luther King holiday and offer even better deals toward the end of the ski season. Late summer/Labor Day sales are when the retail prices really dip.
Shops also offer lease programs on youth packages at affordable prices.
Most fall ski swaps and shows are a great way to compare deals and find discounts on new and used equipment are over now but good resources for next year. Most are held at retail shops and expo venues. A list of nearby shops and a consumer show schedule are available at www.learntoskiandsnowboard.org.
Ski and Travel Off Peak. Mid-week and night skiing can cost less than skiing on weekends. If traveling, ski early and late season, before Christmas and after Spring Break.