The Midwest Ski Areas Association was a forerunner in the January National Ski & Snowboard Month before it became national. Our region of the country is ideal for learning to ski and snowboard. Here are some samples.
You will find many small ski areas close to home with trained instructors offering affordable learn-to-ski and learn-to-snowboard programs for both adults and children. During January, 78 Midwest ski areas will be offering special lesson programs and incentives to bring a new friend out to introduce to the sport. Follow this link to find a program near you.
The Bring A Friend Challenge, open through March 17, 2013, is available for both first-timers and veteran skiers and riders. Qualified participants can win weekly prizes and a grand prize, four-day trip to either Sun Valley, Park City, Deer Valley, The Canyons or Smugglers' Notch for the 2013-14 season, awarded at the end of the Challenge. Follow the above link for the forms and take a friend skiing or riding. It can be rewarding in many ways.
When it comes to learning to ski or snowboard, smaller ski areas are often the best choice. Long-time Midwestern ski instructor Tony LoBianco, whose taught over 35 years at Iowa’s Sundown Mountain, has seen over 10,000 novices come through ski school.
“I’ve found that people like learning on a ski hill where they can see the bottom,” he told SnoCountry.com. “When you’re out West you often can’t see the bottom of the ski hill, and that puts fear into some people. In the Midwest people don’t have to worry about that. We spend more time learning how to ski or ride instead of worrying about getting up the hill.”
Sundown’s SKIwee Kids Park is designed for kids from four to 11 years of age. Small classes allow students plenty of quality instruction time. Sessions are offered Monday through Thursday and Sunday nights 5:30-7 p.m.
Here are highlights from just a few Midwest resorts taking place next month.
Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands is offering lesson packages for alpine skiers, snowboarders and cross country skiers. The cost, which includes a two-hour lesson, equipment rental and lift ticket, is $30 for alpine skiers, $40 for snowboarders, and $20 for Nordic skiers. Lessons are given daily 12:30-2:30 p.m., and reservations are recommended to secure a spot.
Spirit Mountain, overlooking Duluth, offers one of the best deals in the Heartland. Free lessons are being offered to those age 13 and older on Sundays, Jan. 6, 13 and 27, at either 10 a.m. or 3 p.m., your choice. The 90-minute lesson includes conveyor lift access and equipment. You must make reservations at least 48 hours ahead of the lesson. Children, 4-12, can get discounted lessons on those dates.
Missouri’s Hidden Valley offers a midweek beginner lesson throughout January. For $69 you get a ski or snowboard lesson, which includes lesson, equipment and adult lift ticket.
Minnesota’s Welch Village offers a 15-percent discount on lessons to season pass holders, and they are the only Midwest area offering the PMTS Direct Parallel teaching system. No wedges or snowplows. You learn to parallel from the beginning.
Indiana’s Perfect North Slopes offers Bonus Days throughout the year, and pass holders, depending on the pass, are eligible to bring a friend for a complimentary lift ticket. It’s perfect for the Bring A Friend Challenge. So is Wild Mountain’s $72 two-day teaching program, which includes lifts, lessons and rentals. Sign up with a friend and join the Challenge. Perfect North offers a free introductory lesson with each lift ticket purchased.
Thousands of Midwest school kids take advantage of group programs offered by local ski areas. More than 200,000 kids annually participate in learn to ski and snowboard programs across the Heartland. Indiana’s Paoli Peaks attracts over 5,000 elementary students from 200-some schools within a three-hour radius, from as far away as Nashville.
Michigan Snowsports Industries Association offers a Cold is Cool Ski & Ride program to all fourth grade students in the Wolverine State. It includes three free lift tickets at 20 participating ski areas scattered throughout the state and several offer discounted season passes to participants completing the program. MSIA also offers a Discover Michigan Ski program, which includes a beginner lesson, ski or snowboard rental, and a beginner area lift pass or cross country trail pass. The program, which runs from Jan. 2-31, is available at 23 participating ski areas and cost $20 for cross country skiing, $30 for a downhill skiing lesson and $40 for snowboarding.
“Both programs have been very popular in past years,” Mickey McWilliams, MSIA Director, told SnoCountry.com. “They offer an affordable way to give snow sports a try, and many keep with it after that initial lesson. It’s a good introduction to the sport. Participants will know if they want to continue after the lessons.”
Click here for a listing of many more learn to ski and snowboard deals across the country.
Photo: Apple Mountain, Mich.