PSAA program offers free youth skiing

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Free skiing and snowboarding for fourth and fifth graders at 21 of Pennsylvania's resorts?

There has to be a catch, right?

Yep, mom or dad has to accompany them to -- and on -- the slopes and trails. (Someone has to drive.)

The money-saving offer, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Ski Areas Association (PSAA), is available at Blue Knob, Hidden Valley, Mystic Mountain at Nemacolin Woodlands, Seven Springs and at resorts in the central and eastern sections of the state.

After obtaining a snowpass from the PSAA -- more on that in a moment -- fourth and fifth graders will receive a free Learn to Ski/Snowboard package that includes rental equipment, a beginner lesson and a lift ticket for the beginner slope.

They'll also receive three complimentary one-day lift tickets for return visits and they won't be restricted to beginner terrain. They can repeat that procedure at other participating resorts. Among other things, it will enable the youngsters and their parents to see what other resorts have to offer.

Parents must pay for their own lift tickets, rental equipment and lessons.

The snowpass offer is a smart move by the PSAA and the participating resorts to get more people out on the snow, provide time for parent-child bonding in the great outdoors and give them a wonderful opportunity to just have fun.

To receive a snowpass for their children, parents are asked to download an application at, complete it and return it with a photocopy of their children's report card or any other document to verify they are in the fourth or fifth grade.

The application also must be accompanied by a 2 inch by 1½ inch color photo of their children and a check made out to the PSAA to cover a $30 processing fee. Want the snowpass in time for Christmas instead of waiting two or three weeks? Pay by credit card and add $25 to expedite it.

Information:; 1-570-443-0963.

Tom Wallisch

Freestyle skier Tom Wallisch, a Scott Township, native and 2006 Chartiers Valley High School graduate, will participate in the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships Dec. 12-15 at Breckenridge, Colo.

Wallisch, 26, who developed and honed his snow skills at Wisp Resort in western Maryland, will compete with some of the world's top freestyle skiers in the slopestyle event to win the prestigious Dew Cup and earn valuable points toward selection for the US Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) Olympic team.

The event is the first of five competitions to determine who will represent the USSA Team at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Slopestyle will make its debut at the Games. NBC is scheduled to televise the slopestyle event at Breckenridge at noon Dec. 15.

Slopestyle skiers perform a number of difficult tricks while trying to get the maximum air and maneuvers off jumps and rails. Wallisch, who started competing as a pro in 2009, won his first X Games slopestyle gold medal in January 2012.


Boyce Park

Boyce Park opened for the season Friday with two slopes and two lifts, thanks primarily to the park's 11 new T40 TechnoAlpin snow-making machines. It's the earliest Boyce has opened in many years.

Jim Shultz of Mountain Works said additional terrain will open soon.

Information: 724-733-4656; 724-733-4665.

Wise decision

Faced with a formidable forecast of warm and wet weather this week, it was smart on the part of Hidden Valley and Seven Springs not to open for skiing and snowboarding. They'll also be closed Monday through Thursday or Friday next week.

Larry Walsh writes about recreational snow sports for the Post-Gazette.

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