March Is Ideal for Introducing First Timers, Kids To Snowsports
It might seem counterintuitive, but March -- as the season draws to a gradual close -- is the perfect time to introduce a friend or family member to snow sports. The days are warmer and longer and spirits lighter as the extra layers are shed along with winter’s deep freeze.
The snow has piled up to the best conditions of the year and is softer. Spring events like pond skims, deck barbecues, and live music create a festive fun atmosphere. Plus, if you start someone out now, you can take advantage of sales on equipment and clothing and catch late season deals on lodging — even nab free passes.
Plan a day’s outing with a first-timer or an intergenerational March trip with ‘never-evers’ and reap the giggles of goggle tans, not the tears of frozen toes.
Intergenerational Destination Fun
Jackson Hole in Wyoming is infamous for Corbet’s Couloir and famous for its steep’n deep and vertical. But Jackson also boasts learn-to programs for all ages — classes for cliff droppers as well as first-timers — and makes a great vacation destination for groups and families
Ski school caters to families with the Kids Ranch, home to programs for preschoolers through ninth graders.
Adults have their own Beginner Center. The Beginner Guarantee says you’ll be able to control speed and link wedge turns, or you get a free do-over class.
Deals: lift tickets for beginner terrain with two lifts — Juniors, $16; Seniors, $24; Adults, $30; Adult with Junior, $16. Five-and-under ski free. Fly in and get $200/person ‘air credits’ for flight/ski/lodgings package of four days or more.
A Parenting Pass at New Mexico's Angel Fire “is especially good for families with toddlers,” Krysty Ronchetti told SnoCountry.com. The interchangeable pass allows two parents to take turns coaching and skiing with a child and also allows them to take turns on the mountain while the other minds the child.
A 3 Ski Program offers three-year olds a short private lesson, lunch, snacks, snow play, and activities so parents can enjoy a day on the slopes.
Deals: The High-Five Learn to Ski/Ride Program for ages 13 and older features 5 lessons and a free season pass upon completion. “Lessons can be taken consecutively, during succeeding visits, or split over two seasons,” Ronchetti noted. Kids six and under and fifth graders ski free with paying adult. Seniors 70+ ski free. Add tubing hill, Snowman Garden, indoor pools, and spring activities March 6-22and it’s a great time to start someone out on snow.
“Our magic carpets bring toddlers, kids and adult learners to the top of our bunny hill. They are free and you don’t need any lift tickets or anything. … It’s a really safe way to start to ski, and you could enjoy teaching your kids their very first ski skills,” says Garcia Guillaume.
Both resorts also feature an inexpensive “initiation to skiing/snowboarding” package for kids and adults.
Special activities during Canadian school breaks include playgrounds, games, music, animation, kids workshops, Mascot visits, funny races, and more.
Deals: Family Sunday packages with lifts, rentals, and private lessons. Starting March 23, a free third day of skiing with a free third night.
Innovation In Education
The Nanny McSki Doorstep program makes it super easy for parents to introduce children to snow at Crystal Mountain, Mich. A certified instructor trained in childcare guides up to three children of similar ability in a daylong program that does it all — breakfast, rentals, lessons, lunch, and slope time.
A full range of lessons, starting at age three, plus "beginners only" terrain in Totem Park cater to learners. The park’stwo acres and two carpet lifts are open to all beginners, with specialized terrain including a Burton Riglet Park for new riders.
Adults benefit from personalized service with instructional programs that partner learners with an instructor who matches their personality and learning style.
Deals: Kids six and under and adults 80+ ski free.
Snowshoe Mountain, W.Va. offers the Terrain Based Learning program, designed to create a better first-timer experience by removing the anxiety and fear around starting skiing and boarding. Snow features — rollers, banks, mini-pipe — assist with developing speed control and balance by incorporating a fun, yet productive, way to learn that brings first-timers back for more.
Special Intro-to-Snow lessons for ages 13 up and ski school offerings for kids are enhanced by spa, teen center, and other amenities for a full family vacation.
Deal: March 15-April 5, kids 12 and under ski, stay, play free with qualifying four-day parent stay.
Local ski hills and mid-sized areas provide good first-time experiences and make great March discoveries, too.
Ragged Mountain is off the New Hampshire beaten path and uncrowded, but with 55 trails, 7 lifts (the state's only six pack) and a tubing park, Ragged offers fun for learners, families, and experienced skiers/riders.
The beginner area has two carpets with free ticket for a parent teaching a child for an hour, noted Ragged's Tyler Devaux (under six ski free).
A Welcome-to-Snow package ($69, age 13-adult) includes lower mountain lift ticket, rentals, and group lesson. Turn it into a 3-day program and first-timers earn a free season pass upon completion (area operates into April).
Deal: bring a friend who buys a Learn to Ski & Ride 3-lesson package and you get a free lift ticket for the day. Or buy an adult ticket and a friend gets a free learn-to lesson.
Quechee Ski Area — 3 lifts, 13 trails — is part of Vermont’s private Quechee Club but welcomes the public Fridays through Sundays. Quechee offers affordable rentals and lessons for ages four up. Plus there’s skating pond, sledding hill, cross-country trails, and sleigh rides.
Deals: Ages 6 and under ski free. Two ski for $30 and receive a $10 voucher for lunch on Fridays.
Learning in March is smart and can be very economical. It sets the stage for enjoying an extended spring season while gaining a head start on next year, especially if you nab early-bird pass prices or discounts from learn-to programs.
Photos: Top -- Sister enjoy skiing together at Crystal Mt., Mich. (Crystal Mt.); Top right -- Learning is easy in springtime at Angel Fire (Angel Fire); Left -- Adults and children can ride the carpet lifts for free at Mont Sainte Anne and sister area Stoneham. (Stoneham); (Right) The carpet at Ragged Mountain makes getting uphill easy for learners (Ragged Mt.). Bottom: This snowboard class is typical of the soft snow season (Ragged Mt.)