There likely are various reasons why less than three percent of the U.S. population participates in skiing or snowboarding. One of them – and a big one – is the cost. There are several ways to make the sports more affordable. It just takes a little snooping to determine what might work best. Here are a few suggestions:
Discount Lift Ticket Web Sites:
Discount lift ticket web sites are a good option if you only plan to ski or snowboard a few times and do not want to purchase a multi-use season pass such as the Ikon Pass or the Epic Pass. Liftopia and GetSkiTickets are two reliable resources. Both list many resorts in various states that are willing to provide a reduced rate for lift tickets and both sites include information on lodging. Both Liftopia and GetSkiTickets host blogs with current or evergreen information that is useful and practical.
Lease Equipment and Clothing
Purchasing can be pricy especially for those new to the sports or those who have children – or both. Outfitting oneself with both equipment and clothing can run into the hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Snow sports specialty shops throughout the U.S. typically have season-long equipment leasing programs for both children and adults that can provide cost-savings over the course of the winter. Some also have clothing that can be leased and a quick Google search will provide links to local shops depending on your location. One web site called Arrive Outdoors is another resource. You order what clothing you need and it is shipped to you. When done, you ship it back.
Free Skiing/Snowboarding for Youths and Seniors
About a dozen states offer what are called Passport Programs for elementary level children in the fourth, fifth and/or sixth grades. They vary in scope and some require the purchase of an adult lift ticket but Passport Programs offer the most affordable way for kids to participate. Click the link for details on Passport Programs. Click the link for details about Senior Programs.
Swaps and Early/Late Season Sales
Most early season sales start in late August/early September when shops want to clear out last season’s inventory. Depending on how the winter goes, shops can start their end of season sales anytime from late January through the spring when they need to clear space for summer products. Many fall consumer shows include swaps and/or sales but the majority are over for this season.
Swaps often are hosted by shops (typically with a sale) and, in many places, a local chapter of the National Ski Patrol (NSP). NSP swaps are sometimes held in conjunction with community or church groups and also are hosted by a local ski/snowboard resort. In any case, swaps feature previously owned equipment and clothing that is priced well below new or more trendy items. Swaps often include representatives from local resorts who are selling reduced price lift tickets. (Photos above and below were shot at Ski Haus in Annapolis, MD)
Join a Club
Clubs organized reduced rate trips for members and a whole lot more. Clubs work with individual resorts and also wholesale trip organizers to get the best possible prices for their members. They do the work and you get to have the fun. Clubs run inexpensive day trips to local areas as well as bus trips and full package trips to destination resorts. Most clubs belong to the National Ski Council Federation and are located throughout the country. The Federation’s web site provides links. Club meetings typically take place once a month. Most clubs now are engaged in year-round activities such as biking, hiking and good old socializing.