Older skiers are flocking to the ski slopes on weekdays, but do they deserve special privileges or discounts? Whether appropriate or not, for years ski areas (and many other businesses) have reinforced this sense of entitlement for those aged 65 and older, for example with senior citizen discount offers. Mountain resorts seem to be catering to this age group more and more.
“Older skier concerns include discounted skiing, convenience like nearby parking, and fear of on-slope collisions,” offered Mike Maginn, co-publisher of SeniorsSkiing.com which features all aspects of skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing through the perspective of the older participant. He referenced a survey that was conducted on his website visitors.
SeniorsSkiing.com has produced a comprehensive list of ski area age and price policies showing that 157 of North American ski areas offer big bargains for older skiers including 52 that allow them to ski for free! For skiers that have reached 70, there are 101 ski areas offering free or extremely low-cost season passes and lift tickets, and for 80-year-old skiers, virtually all the ski areas on the list offer free skiing.
“Special programs catering to older skiers at Bretton Woods include a $ 32-midweek lift ticket for those aged 65-79 or they can join the Wiser Woods program,” said Craig Clemmer, spokesperson at Bretton Woods. “Senior skiers in this program register for winter-long Tuesday sessions that includes a continental breakfast, three-hour on snow coaching, 10% off on retail and demos, and an end-of-the-season get together.”
One of the most prevalent aspects of these programs is the camaraderie and the weekly socializing with food and skiing - all addressing the desire for people to enjoy their ski experience and get to spend time with others in their group.
“The Silver Streaks group at Waterville Valley Resort is the longest-running senior skiing program in the USA, has weekly après ski activities, ski storage, and a reserved parking area in Lot #1 at the resort,” according to spokesperson Stacie Sullivan. There is a Nordic skiing option out of the Adventure Center for the Silver Streaks, too. Nordic skiing is one of the leading forms of aerobic recreation that can be done at an individual’s pace to deliver fun and fitness for older skiers.
Regarding older skier fears on the slopes, Maginn commented that “The story posted on SeniorsSkiing.com entitled “Blindsided and Body Slammed” received the most comments of all content on the site in 2019.” As the article title infers, a person (who happened to be a 65-year-old snowboarder) suffered significant injuries when a skier violently collided with him from behind…and the perpetrator subsequently left the scene of the incident without saying a word or checking on the status of his prey. Maginn noted, “Many senior skiers responded to the article on the site with their own collision accounts.”
The ski patrol and ski resorts are sincerely concerned that their patrons should be under control at all times to prevent injurious incidents on the slopes. Some resorts and patrol crews do better than others to address the safe skiing issue, and it is just impossible to police every encounter on the slopes to prevent ski accidents, but older skiers as exemplified on SeniorsSkiing.com are voicing concern.
So older skiers are taking advantage of a variety of different prices, programs, and customized resort incentives and they are mostly hitting the slopes on weekdays - would it be too much to ask for more snow and a few more sunny days for senior skiers this winter?