Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month Teaches Value of Snowsports

Every January the ski industry celebrates Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, the season when resorts, mountains and equipment manufacturers go all out to encourage new customers -- fondly called never-evers.

Park City Mountain Resort
Broadmoor Resort
C Lazy U
Gunnison Crested Butte Holidays
Vista Verde Ranch
Wyndham Vacation Rentals
Go by Bolt Bus
Ski Waterville Valley
Rent Cars at Hotwire
All month long, mountain resorts also focus on snow sports safety, and bundle in their safety message with lift ticket and lodging discounts, special events, kids' competitions and family activities that promote learn to ski as well.

January is when families will find mountain ambassadors at strategic trail intersections to assist guests, celebrity athletes visiting terrain parks, and top quality loaner equipment with helmets.

Many also offer discounted lift tickets, run ski and ride equipment sales for guests, and invite representatives from safety and injury protection companies to demonstrate the latest gear.

Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month Special Features offers a quick overview with all of the places where you can get discounted—or possibly even free lessons and rentals. You can also follow the deals on Twitter and Facebook.

Families can look for new opportunities to explore mountains-- like the Mountain Collective-- an unprecedented collaboration between the four top independent resorts: Alta, Aspen/Snowmass, Jackson Hole and Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows that offers 50% off on lift tickets and 25% on lodging.   Find Mountain Collective packages and deals.

This year, January 19-27th is National Safety Awareness Week, during which Ski Area Safety Awards are given to resorts that are most effective and creative in communicating "slope safety" messages to visitors.

While mountain resorts in New Hampshire might concentrate on poster competitions, some resorts around Lake Tahoe will give Avalanche Awareness clinics where young and old alike learn safety and rescue techniques.

So gather your mittens and warm socks, curl up with the family, and review our top suggestions for Fun in the Snow resorts that welcome everyone, from novices to experts, this month and throughout the snow sports season.

Teach the Whole Family to Enjoy Snowsports

Take the Bring a Friend Challenge, a new element of Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month (LSSM). It's open to all current skiers and snowboarders including members of the industry. The Challenge offers incentives for current skiers and snowboarders who introduce newcomers to lessons from professional instructors this winter. The Challenge starts December 17, 2012 and ends March 17, 2013. Details are located at  You can win prizes and even a free trip to a snow resort.

You can snowshoe in national parks like Yellowstone and Grand Teton. See what I wrote about snowshoeing with kids and what I wrote about visiting Yellowstone in Winter.

You can also experience winter at a dude ranch like the C Lazy U and Vista Verde Ranch  in Colorado where you can snowshoe, horseback ride in the snow, XC ski and even back country ski with a snow cat taking you up the hills so you can ski or snowboard down on private land.  And you won’t need to cook a single meal either!  See what I wrote about visiting Vista Verde in winter.

Many snow sports resorts are pulling out all the stops for families this season with increased programming, free lift tickets and free flights.  Look for deals from companies like that can package lifts, lessons, lodging and air and can tell you where and when your kids can hit the slopes with free lift tickets. Here’s what I wrote about kids-free programs this season.

Check out companies like Black Tie Rentals that will deliver gear right to where you are staying and adjust it on the spot. (I loved the convenience at Aspen last year.)  Many locations offer a kids rent free package throughout the season for kids 12 and under. Ski Butlers has deals in Steamboat and Telluride where kids rent free if you do an adult rental for five or more days.

Values at Resorts that Cater to Beginners

If everyone in your gang is a beginner, consider smaller mountains near where you live – Hunter Mountain in New York, for example, Crystal Mountain in Michigan, Brian Head Resort in Utah, Bolton Valley in Vermont and Mount Rose on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe. They will invariably be cheaper and less overwhelming for the kids — and you.

Check what snow sports resorts near your home are offering for families this season:
Several states also offer “passports” for kids of certain ages allowing them to ski free — once you have filled out the paperwork and paid a small processing fee — all season. They include:
  • Fourth graders in New York
  • Fifth graders in Vermont
  • Fourth and fifth graders in New Hampshire
  • Fifth, sixth and seventh graders in Maine
  • Fifth and sixth graders in Utah
  • The Colorado 2012/2013 School of Shred Pass provides 4 free days of skiing or riding at each of the state’s top-ranked resorts: Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin for all Colorado fifth and sixth grade students who register. Lessons and rentals are provided from 11/26/12-12/16/12, as well as during the entire month of January 2013 as a part of “Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month”. 
Check with your state to see what they are offering for your grade schoolers.
The Canadian Ski Council’s 2012-2013 SnowPass allows 4th and 5th  graders living in Canada  to ski and ride three times at each participating ski area all across Canada.

There are also many adaptive programs around the country for those with physical and mental challenges including the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park, CO; the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center also in Colorado; the National Ability Center in Park City, Utah, and Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports.

 Read more at Fun in the Snow, This Year's Best Family Snowsports Vacations

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