January is National Ski and Snowboard Month, but the movement actually started years ago in the Heartland through the Midwest Ski Areas Association. Choose from many offers next month.
This region of the country is ideal for learning to ski or snowboard; small, close to home ski areas with affordable programs for both children and adults. Seventy-six Midwest ski areas are offering special lesson programs and incentives to give snowsports a try in January. Take advantage.
“People like learning on a smaller hill compared to a mountain where you often can’t see the bottom of the run,” pointed out Kathy Schofield with Michigan’s Apple Mountain. “We’re a hometown hill with a nice controlled learning environment.”
Taking a lesson is important to get started right skiing or snowboarding, according to ski instructor Mike Nesheim at Great Bear ski area in South Dakota.
“Friends don’t let friends teach friends how to ski or snowboard,” he says. “If you do, chances are you won’t stay with it. You take a lesson from a certified instructor, you will learn and most likely keep coming back.”
“Learning how to ski or snowboard right will make it much more enjoyable because you will have that good foundation,” added Scholfield.
Here are a just few highlights from offers taking place across the Midwest in January:
Missouri’s Hidden Valley offers a midweek beginner lesson throughout the month. The cost is $69, which includes lesson, lift ticket and equipment, a savings of $15 off the regular price.
Spirit Mountain, overlooking Duluth, offers one of the best deals in the Heartland. Free lessons are offered for those 13 and older on Sundays, Jan. 5, 12 and 26, at 10 a.m. and again at 3 p.m. The one-and-half-hour lesson includes conveyor lift access and equipment. You must sign up at least 48 hours in advance of the lesson to reserve a spot.
Minnesota’s Wild Mountain offers free children’s lessons daily Monday through Thursday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., and Friday-Sunday at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Free first time lessons for ages 13 and up will be offered every day as the children’s weekend times.
Paoli Peaks in Indiana is offering a Learn to Ski or Snowboard Package on Saturday and Sunday throughout the month for ages seven and up from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. The cost is $45 and includes a day pass for the Discovery Area, equipment and lesson.
Michigan Snowsports Industries Association (MSIA) and McDonalds restaurants is offering a Discover Michigan Ski Voucher that covers a lesson, lift pass and rental equipment. The cost with the voucher is $30 for skiing and $40 for snowboarding at participating ski areas. The program is open to anyone seven and older. Vouchers can be picked up at participating Michigan McDonalds restaurants and MSIA retail ski stores throughout January while supplies last. Twenty four of the Wolverine State’s top ski areas are participating.
“We’ve been doing this for over 20 years now, and the program has always been very popular,” Mickey McWilliams, MSIA Director, told SnoCountry.com. “It’s an affordable way to give snowsports a try and easy to get the voucher.”
Photo: Learning at Apple Mt., Mich. (Apple Mt.)