Lou Batori, the oldest known skier, takes a run down Crystal Mountain slopes last year at 106 years old. (Crystal Mountain)
Getting older carries with it some pretty special benefits if you’re a skier or snowboarder. There are 15 resorts scattered across the Midwest that allows seniors to ski or ride free at a certain age.
Ages that qualify for the free lift ticket range from 65 to 90, but the majority are in the 70 range. Most of the other Heartland resorts that don’t offer a turn on the slopes for free do offer lift tickets with pretty good discounts for seniors. Many resorts, hoping to win back the loyalty of the baby boomers that helped establish the industry during the 70s and 80s, have created programs designed for the 50 and over crowd, as well as events like Silver Streak Week with discounted lift tickets (sometimes free), programs and lodging discounts.
Michigan’s Crystal Mountain has a Retired, Not Tired program that the instituted a few years ago, which has been quite popular with area seniors. It’s offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m.-noon. It’s designed for those that want to continue skiing, or return to skiing, but may need support. It’s really a way for older participants to the sport to enjoy time together. Some may be beginners, but others will tackle the more advanced terrain in different groups. The cost is $34 per person, per session. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 888-968-7686, ext. 2000.
It’s a large segment of our population that has the leisure time, and realizes the health benefits of skiing to stay physically fit.
Here is a list of the Midwest resorts that do offer free lift tickets to seniors and at what age. It baffles me as to why many more of our Heartland ski areas don't offer an enticing incentive for senior skiers. Most will spend money on lunches and drinks afterwards reminiscing about the day on the slopes. The Crystal Mountain program is ahead of the learning curve.
In Michigan: Boyne Highlands and Boyne Mountain, age 80; Cannonsburg, age 70; Crystal Mountain, age 70; Mt. Holiday, age 70; Nubs Nob, age 70; Shanty Creek, age 70; Snow Snake, age 70; and The Homestead, age 70.
Welch Village in Minnesota offers free skiing to those 90 and over; Hidden Valley, Missouri, age 70; Mad River Mountain, Ohio, age 75; Terry Peak, South Dakota, age 70; and Devil’s Head, Wisconsin, age 66.