December 2016 – January 2017 delivers big savings on lessons for first-time skiers and snowboarders participating in the 9th annual “Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month” (LSSM). Many LSSM programs start the day after new year’s and continue throughout the month, excluding Martin Luther Kind weekend. The “unofficial kick-off is Friday, January 6, 2017 when resorts across the U.S. and Canada host events to determine a Guinness record for the World’s Largest Ski and World’s Largest Snowboard Lessons. For those already skiing and snowboarding, savings and free equipment are offered by the “Bring a Friend Challenge” (BAF), which runs through February 28, 2017.
During LSSM, hundreds of ski areas large and small offer children and adults discount packages that typically include a beginner lesson, equipment rental and a lift ticket. Lessons usually are by instructors certified by the Professional Ski Instructors Association or American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI). While lessons are available all season at ski areas across North America, January is a time for taking advantage of the best beginner deals. Regardless of the time of the year, LSSM organizers focus on having beginners take lessons from professional instructors rather than encouraging newcomers to teach themselves or try to learn from a friend, family member or spouse. Since its advent in 2009, nearly 750,000 people have taken their first ski or snowboard lesson with the LSSM initiative. Most participants learn Alpine skiing and snowboarding during their lessons, which typically last 1.5 hours.
Several LSSM offers are listed below from states including New York, Utah, Vermont, Michigan, Massachusetts, North Carolina, California, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Washington, Idaho, Minnesota, Nevada, Indiana and Colorado. Dozens more offers are detailed at “Special Programs” section on www.learntoskiandsnowboard.org.
“The snow sports industry has developed so many creative, economical ways for children and adults to get outside in the winter to ski or snowboard. These sports are a terrific way to stay active all year long,” said the LSSM/BAF Director, Mary Jo Tarallo. “People often hear about the high priced, single-day, walk up to the ticket counter cost of buying a lift ticket, but the reality is that there are many ways to save if you know where to look.”
LSSM/BAF Chair Raelene Davis, Ski Utah’s Director of Marketing, notes “As the chair of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard/Bring a Friend initiative, I have seen, first hand, the success of our industry programs to engage newcomers and especially on how to enable children to experience and enjoy being active in the winter outside.”
Guinness World Records for LARGEST Lessons
On January 6, 2017, over 80 ski areas across U.S. and Canada will attempt to set the first Guinness World Records Ski areas across U.S. and Canada will attempt to set the first Guinness World Records for LARGEST multi-venue Ski and the LARGEST multi-venue Snowboard Lessons ever taught. From this group, the single venue ski lesson and the single venue snowboard lesson record will be determined too. Ski and snowboard lessons are not taught together. The single venue records for both disciplines are approximately 500 people. The national record-setting effort is being organized by the LSSM initiative and SNOW Operating, the exclusive provider of the Terrain Based Learning Program. For participating Canadian resorts, this event is part of the “Never Ever Days” program. All events will take place simultaneously in seven different time zones.
Participating ski resorts include Massachusetts’ Wachusett Mountain Ski Area, Vermont’s Smugglers’ Notch Resort, New York’s Mount Peter Ski Area, Pennsylvania’s Camelback Mountain Resort, California’s Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Colorado’s Winter Park Resort and many others noted at http://learntoskiandsnowboard.org/special-programs/largest-lesson/participating-resorts.
“Bring A Friend Challenge” (BAF)
In the BAF, everyone that brings a “first timer” to sign up for a lesson can become a BAF “Ambassador” by competing in the Challenge. Ambassadors can win prizes including lift tickets and gear from the biggest brands in snow sports. The 2016 Ambassador of the Year, high school teacher Cindy Rust of Idaho, won a Burton apparel ensemble.
Many Vermont resorts, including Bromley, Pico and Killington, are giving away lift tickets to those who introduce a “friend” to the association’s Take 3 (lessons) package (see http://skivermont.com/bring-a-friend-vt). On Lake Tahoe in California, Homewood is offering a $59 Learn to Ski & Ride Package including rentals and a $49 BRING A FRIEND OFFER when lessons are purchased in advance. Near Boston, Wachusett Mountain Ski Area’s Bring a Friend package includes: For You: One Day Lift Ticket ($69 value) For Your Friend: One Day Learn To Ski/Ride Package ($99 value) (Beginner package includes Monadnock Lift ticket, Rentals and Lesson) Buy Now Only $110 (SAVE $58!!). This package is only valid for ONLINE purchases. See www.wachusett.com/TicketsPasses/DailyTicketsandPackages/BringaFriendforFun/tabid/731/Default.aspx.
New BAF prizes and a list of venues participating in the January 6, 2017 Guinness World Records attempts are listed at learntoskiandsnowboard.org.
Development of the BAF program reflects data from a new National Ski Areas Association study: 55 percent of new skiers and 45 percent of snowboarders first tried the sport because they “Wanted to be able to join family and friends who ski/snowboard.”
Over 40 percent also noted they “Wanted to try an activity that would get me outdoors in the winter time.” This reflects the fact that skiing and snowboarding are healthy activities: a 155-pound adult can burn 422 calories an hour skiing at a moderate speed, and a 70-pound youth can burn 181 calories (see http://skiing.about.com/od/skifitness/qt/calories-burned-skiing.htm).
Beyond these financial- and health-focused motivating factors, it is now commonly accepted that today it is easier to learn to ski and snowboard due to improved equipment. It is also more affordable due to the discount programs noted above and new websites offering discounted equipment and lift tickets.
Examples of 2017 “Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month” deals:
In New York during January, Belleayre, Bristol, Thunder Ridge, Toggenburg and Windham all have affordable learning packages listed at http://www.skiandsnowboardmonth.org/special-programs/special-offers. For example, Toggenburg Mountain Near Syracuse is offering a $25 LSSM Beginner Special including 1 hour group lesson, lift ticket to our learning center and full rental. Lessons are available at 11a, 1p and 2p. This is available for guests 8 years of age and over. Toggenburg’s Bring a Friend package: Buy One Get One Free! $35 Beginner Special including 1 hour group lesson, lift ticket to our learning center and full rental. Lessons are available at 11a, 1p and 2p. This is available for guests 8 years of age and over. See http://skitog.com.
In Utah during January, many resorts are offering a $49 Learn to ski or snowboard package for Utah adults and children. Participating resorts include Alta, Beaver Mountain, Brian Head, Brighton, Deer Valley, Nordic Valley, Park City, Powder Mountain, Snowbird, Solitude and Sundance. The package includes a beginner lesson, equipment rental and a beginner lift ticket. See https://www.skiutah.com/deals/learn-to-ski-and-snowboard. For example at Powder Mountain, outside Ogden, UT, the LSSM offer is $49 for ages 13 and up and includes lift ticket, group lesson and equipment rental. Participants must mention “Learn to Ski Month” at time of reservation to receive $49 price, and the offer is not valid January 1-6 & January 14-16, 2017.
In Vermont, Killington is celebrating LSSM with $49 Learn-To packages: 1-day packages will include a lesson, rental equipment, and a limited Learning Area lift ticket for first-time skiers and riders ages 7 and up. Offer may not be combined with multi-day Learn To packages and discounts. Advanced reservations are recommended as space is limited to the first five reservations per day. Additional restrictions may apply. Offer not valid on January 1, 2017 & January 14-15, 2017 See http://www.killington.com/site/to-do/snow-sports-school/special_offers.
Across Michigan, 26 ski areas team up with McDonald’s restaurants to offer “Discover Michigan Skiing,” an affordable introduction to the sport of skiing and snowboarding. Participating resorts include Apple Mountain, Crystal Mountain, Norway Mountain and Treetops Resort. “Discover Michigan Skiing” includes a beginner lesson, ski or snowboard rental equipment and a beginner-area ski lift pass or cross-country trail pass all for just: $20 for Cross-country skiing and $35 for Downhill skiing or Snowboarding. To sign up, pick up a voucher at a McDonald’s restaurant or get one online and make a reservation at the ski area where you want to take your lesson. Note: Some ski areas allow you to sign up online! Learn more when you call the ski area for a reservation. See http://goskimichigan.com/michigan-ski-programs/discover-michigan-skiing.
In Massachusetts, adults or children ages 7+ can learn to Ski or Snowboard for $75 at Ski Butternut.
At Cataloochee in North Carolina, the LSSM offer for $59, beginning January 6, 2017 and only available online, offers a special beginning lesson, lift ticket and rental package for persons age 8 and above. Lessons last 1 3/4 hours. This offer is valid any non-holiday Monday through Friday during the month of January. Package is not available for purchase at ski area or day of visit. Only 75 of these packages are available for each day. Packages will be available for purchase at http://cataloochee.com/learn-to-slide/learn-to-ski-or-ride-month.
In California, Heavenly resort’s LSSM is $210 for two adult half-day lessons on consecutive days. In includes lift tickets valid in the beginner teaching areas only, lesson and equipment. It must be purchased in advance and by January 31, 2017. See https://www.skiheavenly.com/plan-your-trip/ski-and-ride-lessons.aspx. In Southern California’s San Bernardino Mountains, ninety minutes from Los Angeles, Snow Valley Mountain Resort will offer Monday through Friday, non-holidays, in January 2017 a $69 Buy One Get One Free Beginner Lesson for skiers and snowboarders ages 13 and up. It includes beginner area lift ticket, 1.5-hour group lesson, and a complete ski or snowboard rental package. Also in Southern California, Mountain High Resort in the San Gabriel mountains will offer a midweek, non-holiday $75 MIDWEEK Half Day Beginner Package complete with lesson, rentals, and a lower-mountain – and a second lesson FREE that day.
New Hampshire’s LSSM program costs $39 for ski and snowboard beginner lessons and $19 for cross-country lessons. The package is available for the absolute beginner, ages 13+ and includes a 2-hour introductory lesson, lower lift ticket and rentals. Lessons are available, Sunday-Friday, non-holiday.. Participating resorts include Black Mountain, Bretton Woods, Cannon, Cranmore, and King Pine. For all resorts, see http://www.skinh.com/learn/january-learn-to-ski-snowboard-month.
In Pennsylvania many resorts are offering a $49 package, “First-time Ski/Snowboard Program.” See http://www.skipa.com/deals/learn-to-ski-and-snowboard. Also in Pennsylvania, Liberty Mountain Resort every Wednesday night in January 2017, the “Learn To Ski/Snowboard & Stay Package” at the Liberty Hotel will be $99 per person (taxes not included). This package includes one night lodging (minimum double occupancy), hot breakfast voucher for each guest, the Learn to Ski or Board Package as outlined above (for 2 people ages 8 and up). The rates are per person/per night. Package must be paid in full and in advance. Additional people ages 12 and over will be $10 per night, kids under the age of 12 are free in the room. If they are not participating in the $49 Learn To Ski Program their lift and rental tickets would be available at the standard hotel 10 percent discount off retail rates.
In Washington State, at Mt. Spokane the EZ Ski or Ride 1-2-3 Package (ages 7+), regularly $149, is only $129 during January, Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. It includes 3 lessons, 3 lift tickets, and 3 rentals for one low price. Group lessons go out at 10:30am and 1:00pm, visit on any weekend or holiday. Learn the basics with a Chair 5 lift ticket (beginner hill) on the first lesson and progress as far as you want to or are capable of on the second two lessons with an all-mountain lift ticket. Upon completion of the EZ-Ski or Ride program you will be eligible to purchase a season pass for the remainder of the season for just $99 as a graduation gift! See http://www.mtspokane.com/adult-programs#EZ.
Idaho’s Lookout Pass has a limited lift ticket and full mountain lift ticket Guaranteed Learn to Ski and Snowboard packages staring priced at $50 and $59. Also, in Idaho, Silver Mountain is offing a beginner package for $39.
In Minnesota, Mount Ski Gull has a five-week ski program for kids ages 5 – 12 and a five-week snowboard programs for kids ages 6 – 12. The ski program starts January 21 and snowboard starts January 22.
Nevada’s Diamond Peak is offering a $39 LSSM package from January 9- 13, 2017 for those ages 7 – Adult.
In Indiana, Paoli Peaks ski area has a $45 LSSM package on Saturdays and Sundays in January for adults and children. It includes a snow pass (valid 9am-10pm for the Discovery Area Only), rental equipment, and a Discovery Lesson. Learn to Ski/Snowboard packages will be available for purchase from 8:45am-2:30pm and the lessons run from 9am to 4:30pm. See www.paolipeaks.com/learn-to-ski.html
In Colorado, Winter Park Resort has a pair of specials to celebrate Learn to Ski and Ride month: First Timers receive 25% off of Fast Track 5 lesson Valid Monday – Thursday in January Online pre-book only. Kid Fast Track 5 promo price: $141.75 (25% regular lesson price) Adult Fast Track 5 promo price: $111.75 (25% regular lesson price). These convenient half-day semi-private lessons are limited to five students per instructor. See https://www.winterparkresort.com/plan-your-trip/lessons/ski-and-ride-school. At Aspen-Snowmass the LSSM offer is the Beginner’s Magic Group Lesson for participants 18 and older and includes a full-day lesson, beginner rental equipment, beginner area lift ticket. The cost: IN-RESORT $239; 7-DAY ADVANCE PURCHASE $229; PEAK IN RESORT $249. See https://www.aspensnowmass.com/plan-your-stay/lessons/beginners-magic-group-lessons. At Steamboat Springs, CO the LSSM offer is the “2 DAY LEARN TO SKI OR RIDE” Package that includes two days of lessons, rentals and lift tickets for $199 from January 9-31. Learn to Ski/Ride is available for adults and children ages 1st grade and older. See https://www.steamboat.com/plan-your-trip/lessons/snowsports-school/first-time-skier-groups.