The Michigan Snowsports Industries Association (MSIA) and Minnesota Ski Areas Association offer passport programs that allow elementary-age kids to give skiing and snowboarding a try for free. In Michigan, it covers both fourth and fifth graders. Minnesota’s program covers just fourth graders. Surprisingly Wisconsin, the Heartland state just behind Michigan for a number of ski areas doesn't offer such a program.
For Midwestern skiers that like to get in a lot of slope time around the country outside the Heartland, a few new options are available for this season.
It’s the time of year when many consider ski pass purchases for next season. If you are happy skiing your favorite area only and not interested in passes offering multiple options, read no further. There are a few a few options for Heartland skiers that like to ski many areas over the winter, and three of the alternatives offer options for those that like to take a winter trip or three to the mountains.
Several ski areas located near Midwest major cities are hosting female ski clinics over the next month. Enjoy that slope time even more with improved form and confidence.
The Michigan Snowsports Industries Association (MSIA) and Minnesota Ski Areas Association offer passport programs allowing elementary age kids the chance to try skiing and snowboarding for free. In Michigan it covers both fourth and fifth graders, and Minnesota’s program covers fourth graders.
Winter has arrived across the upper Midwest. Many ski areas and resorts are opening this weekend, and Thanksgiving Weekend also looks good if you want to get away for that first ski trip of the new season.
Snow has been below average for parts of the West but this week features a big change. (Brighton Resort/Facebook)
A much colder and snowier weather pattern returns to the West with feet of snow while the East warms up with more mixed precipitation.
Ski Girl's Rock on Afton Alps' slopes. (Afton Alps/Facebook)
Over the next few weeks seven Midwest ski areas are hosting women’s ski and snowboard clinics. Two ski areas are located in Indiana, and one each in Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin.
Boyne Highlands freshly groomed. (Boyne)
Winter has arrived across the upper Midwest and is even allowing some ski areas in the lower Heartland to fire up and test the snowguns. It’s some of the earliest openings in 20 years.
Skate with the stars at Sun Valley (Sun Valley/Facebook)
Downhill skiing and ice skating have been linked closely during the cold winter months, and a number of winter resorts around the country link with outdoor ice rinks.
Most stay open into the evenings, and typically charge a fee for a couple of hours of skating, offer skate rentals that are sometime free if you’re staying at the resort, and have food and drink nearby.
SnoCountry.com took a look around the country, and came up with some ice rinks of note for some skating enjoyment:
Squaw Valley. You have to take an 8-minute cable car ride to 8,200-foot High Camp to reach a 100x200 foot rink, with Olympic Museum and mind-blowing views of the Sierra and Lake Tahoe. Cost includes tram ride.
Sun Valley. Outdoor rink next to Sun Valley Lodge in main village, the 77-year-old sheet hosts popular Sun Valley Ice Shows. Individual or group lessons available, and world-class skaters often stop by for practice and autographs.
Keystone. Colorado resort has two skating venues: A five-acre lake in the heart of the resort’s village with Zambonis putting down new surface; and, the more traditional Dercum Square Ice Rink near the base of the ski and snowboard mountain.
Guidant John Rose Oval. While not at a resort, this 110,000 square-foot sheet in Roseville, Minn., is close enough for skiers and snowboarders from nearby Afton Alps, Hyland Hills and Buck Hill to stop by apres-ski. Rink has hosted U.S. and international speedskating competitions.
Liberty Mountain. The Pennsylvania resort opened a new skating pond this season, located in the newly renovated pedestrian core of the base area and open daily till 10 p.m. Courtyard Pond has seating for viewers.
Whiteface. Take a turn on the same ice as Olympic champ Sonja Henie, and where annual Stars on Ice Tour features top skaters. The Speed Skating Oval has skate rentals and a fir pit in the middle. Or glide onto Mirror Lake for some old-fashioned pond hockey.
Join pro skier Lisa Densmore at Boyne Highlands. (Boyne Highlands)
Over the next few weeks eight Midwest ski areas are hosting women’s ski and snowboard clinics. Two ski areas are located in Michigan, two in Indiana, and one each in Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin.
Stunning views at Pebble Creek. (Pebble Creek/Facebook)
Savvy skiers and riders know there are great deals to be found out there to get you on the snow. Buying online ahead of time is often the easiest way to cut costs, but even if you wait until you arrive at the mountain to get your tickets, there are still affordable options at resorts across the country.
Crystal Mountain Inn at the Mountain expansion taking place. (Crystal Mountain)
Despite the warm winter across the Midwest last season that negatively impacted the ski season a half-dozen ski resorts are completing major projects for the 2016/17 winter season. Four are located in Michigan and one each in Ohio and Wisconsin.
Afton Alps will host a Thanksgiving race camp. (Scott Melander)
The first Heartland ski area opened this past weekend, and just in time if you are looking for a Thanksgiving race camp in the Midwest. Four are scheduled across the upper Heartland; two in Minnesota, one each in upper Michigan and Wisconsin.
Minnesota’s Wild Mountain opened for the season this past weekend, and is hosting a Thanksgiving Race Camp Nov. 25-27, daily 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. The cost for the three-day camp is $150. The racing program is an alliance between Three Rivers Racing - TR2 and Wild to cultivate, promote and develop world class alpine ski racers from the surrounding area. This coming weekend is demo days. Wild has been the first Midwest ski area to open in the Heartland over the last decade.
Nearby Afton Alps is also hosting its race training camp Nov. 25-27, daily 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Cost is $85 three days and $40 for a single day. The camp, open to ages 7-21, includes slalom and giant slalom training with free ski skill development under the guidance of experienced coaches. Registration deadline is Friday Nov. 18.
Ski Brule, located in Michigan’s UP, plans to open for the season Nov. 18. They are hosting their 26th Thanksgiving Race Camp Nov. 24-27. Fees are $60 per day or $220 all four days. Regarded as one of the top camps in the Heartland, they have always been able to provide lift served trails for training. It’s geared towards age and ability and provides small group training. Thanksgiving dinner will be available in the lodge. Lodging packages are available over the holidays. Stay four nights and Wednesday night is half-off. In all those years Brule has never had to call off a Thanksgiving camp.
Wisconsin’s Trollhaugen is hosting a Thanksgiving Race Camp Nov. 25-27, running daily 8:45 a.m.-4 p.m. Training includes small groups, slalom and giant slalom skiing and racing techniques and video. Cost for 13 years and older is $110 one day, $145 two days, and $170 all three days. For those 12 and younger the respective cost $105, $135 and $160. Fees include lift tickets, lunch, a camp T-shirt, five hours daily training, and swag.
The Wisconsin and Minnesota areas are within an hour’s drive of the Twin Cities.
Longtime Midwest Ski Areas Association (MSAA) Executive Director Chris Stoddard has stepped down after 25 years, and Amy Augustine Reents, who has been active in the Midwest ski industry for the past 25 years, has been named the new President/Executive Director.
Vail Resorts, which purchased Wilmot Mountain, located between Chicago and Milwaukee, in January, has announced that they will spend $13 million to completely transform the guest experience at one of the nation’s oldest ski areas. The ski area first opened in 1938.
Female skiers and snowboarders will soon take center stage at three Minnesota resorts. The clinics will get you on course for the rest of the season, and one clinic will host a wine and cheese afterwards.
Minnesota’s ski season is underway with several ski areas already open. The Gopher State has fared better in the weather pool than other Great Lakes state, especially those on the east side of Lake Michigan. Here’s a rundown on what’s new at ski resorts that have made improvements.
A series of beginner and advance lessons take place at Welch Village, and snowboard camps are scheduled at Buck Hill, Afton Alps and Wild Mountain throughout the month of February. It’s a great chance for Twin City skiers and snowboarders to sharpen their skills.