Larry Walsh: How to go skiing without getting snowed by costs
December 12, 2015 12:00 AM
By Larry Walsh / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Cost is one of the top reasons individuals give for not wanting to learn to ski or snowboard.
No surprise there.
But SnowSports Industries America (SIA), an organization that represents suppliers and retailers and promotes the growth and development of snowsports, said they “can be surprisingly affordable” for smart shoppers.
Here’s what the SIA recommends “to cut the costs without cutting the fun” — as soon as there’s enough snow.
• Take advantage of all-inclusive packages at local and regional resorts during January, which SIA has designated as Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. The packages include rental equipment, a lift ticket and a lesson taught by a professional instructor.
Participating resorts include:
Blue Knob, Hidden Valley, Mystic Mountain at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, Seven Springs, Ski Sawmill Family Resort and Whitetail in Pennsylvania; Canaan Valley, Timberline and Snowshoe in West Virginia; Holiday Valley, Kissing Bridge and Peek’n Peak in New York; and Wisp in Maryland.
• New snowsports enthusiasts can save money by renting clothing, an option that makes starting out more affordable. SIA said www.getoutfitted.com and www.mountainthreads.com rent name brand products. Consumers select what they need and the companies ship it to a venue of choice.
• If its time to buy instead of rent, sales start after the Martin Luther King holiday and the deals get better toward the end of the season. Retail prices really drop in late summer, especially around Labor Day. Shops also offer lease programs on youth packages at affordable prices.
Look for fall ski/snowboard swaps offered at Boyce Park and Seven Springs.
• Use the Internet to find less expensive lift tickets. SIA said www.Liftopia.com and www.GetSkiTickets.com sell advance discount tickets to many resorts, including well-known destinations. It said resorts often offer similar advance deals on their websites, including new Epic Day discounts at each of the Vail Resorts.
• Befriend a season pass-holder. Many resorts, including Seven Springs, offer “buddy tickets” and discounts to their pass-holders that allow them to bring a friend for free or a discount, usually in March.
• Avoid weekend costs and crowds by skiing and snowboarding mid-week and evenings. When traveling to a destination resort, arrive before Christmas and after spring break. The savings can be significant.
Laurel Mountain update
Thanks to excellent weather and a fast work clip, Ligonier Construction is making good progress with the initial renovation work at Laurel Mountain, the state-owned ski/snowboard area in Westmoreland County.
Terry Brady, press secretary for the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said heavy equipment is being used to enlarge the size of ponds to hold more water — from 15 million gallons to 26 million gallons — for snowmaking.
“It’s estimated that more than 20 percent of the work has been completed,” Brady said.
Larry Walsh writes about recreational snowsports for the Post-Gazette.
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