Crystal Mountain kids in lesson. (Crystal Mountain)
Many state and industry programs are offered throughout the west and east allowing elementary age kids the chance to give skiing and snowboarding a try throughout the winter. The Michigan Snowsports Industries Association (MSIA) offers one of the best in my opinion. It’s the only statewide program I could find being offered in the Midwest.
The Cold is Cool Ski & Ride Passport program offers students’ three free lift tickets at 25 participating ski areas scattered throughout the state and additional discounts at participating ski shops. There is a $20 printing and shipping fee for each passport ordered, which is nominal compared to the cost of three lift tickets. It also helps sponsor additional school field trips. MSIA helps underprivileged kids get out on the slopes and trails through grants to schools.
Cold is Cool packets with application forms for the Passport are mailed to all Michigan schools in the fall. You can also go online for an application or pick up one at participating ski shops. To use the free lift tickets a paying adult must accompany fourth and fifth graders on the slopes. One adult can accompany two students. The Passport is valid through April 30, 2018.
“We feel that the students should be supervised by an adult while skiing or riding. It keeps it an affordable, fun, safe activity the family can enjoy together,” explained Mickey McWilliams, MSIA executive director.
The Cold is Cool Passport also includes a coupon for $20 off a helmet purchase and $15 off the purchase of $100 at participating Michigan ski shops. Some ski areas also included coupons for equipment rental and free or discounted lessons.
A sampling of ski areas in northern Lower Michigan include Crystal Mountain, Shanty Creek, Nubs Nob, Boyne Mountain, Boyne Highlands and in southern Michigan Swiss Valley, Timber Ridge, Mt. Brighton. In the UP Ski Brule, Marquette Mountain, Pine Mountain are just a few included. A complete list is available online.