Got a friend who needs to learn how to ski? A spouse or significant other? A friend of your kid’s? Maybe it’s up to you to turn them on to the sport you love, and there’s no better time than January, National Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month.
It’s a nagging problem for the resort industry: Beginners gamely give skiing a try, are intimidated by the difficulty of learning, and never return to the slopes. The key is showing them a better time, so they’ll want to come back. This month, resorts eager to mint new skiers offer special deals for novices.
In the East, Vermont, especially, takes Learn to Ski Month seriously. “We were the first with a state-wide message, where all our resorts are participating with lift ticket and equipment deals,” says Sarah Wojcik of the industry trade group Ski Vermont. “We hear it at trade meetings that Vermont resorts are doing an especially good job, and now other states are trying to emulate what we do.”
Examples: Many Green Mountain resorts are taking part in the nationwide Learn to Ski program, where for $29 participants get rental gear, a lesson, and a lift ticket (usually good for learner slopes only, so experts won’t be tempted to scam it). Killington, now home of "terrain-based learning" (beginner slopes specially contoured to aid learning) takes it a step further, with participants taking home brand new skis, boots, and bindings upon completion of a four-day program. At Sugarbush, learners who stick it out for three days ($185) graduate with a season pass good for the following season.
Resorts throughout the East are offer variations on the learn-to-ski theme. Check here for details on what’s available in your region: http://www.learntoskiandsnowboard.org/jan-info/january-specials
And here’s a rundown of what Vermont resorts offer, courtesy of Ski Vermont:
Learn to Turn with Ski Vermont's Discounted Beginner Packages in January:
Skiing and snowboarding are lifelong sports that keep people active and connected to their environment even during the cold winter months. Giving children the gift of a lifetime of health and winter enjoyment is a wonderful experience, but that doesn’t mean you need to be a kid to learn. Adults can also learn to ski and snowboard with the help of Vermont’s professional instructors.
Whether young or old, January is the time to pick up a winter sport with $29 Learn to Ski and Snowboard packages available all month long and all over Vermont. Packages include a beginner lift ticket, equipment rentals and a professional lesson. They are available non-holiday while supplies last and can be found at www.skivermont.com/learn.
In addition to alpine skiing and snowboarding initiatives, Nordic skiing and snowshoeing are free at multiple locations during Winter Trails Day on Saturday, January 10. The inventory of snowshoes, skis and lesson space is limited. Contact participating ski areas to verify details and availability, and learn more at www.snowlink.com/wintertrails.aspx.
Skiing or riding is even better with friends. Whether learning or a pro, skiers and riders are encouraged to introduce someone to their favorite sport this season and be entered to win a two night ski and stay package through the Bring a Friend program. Participants share photos and stories of friends learning to ski or snowboard on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and tag it #BringaFriendVT to enter to win.
View all of Ski Vermont’s Learn to Turn initiatives and programs at skivermont.com/learntoturn
Vermont ski resorts also offer additional lesson options and specialized clinics for those looking to expand their skills. Here is a sampling of what’s available this season:
Join Bromley this January for Learn to Ski & Snowboard month. Bromley will offer a $29 lift/lesson/rental package for the month of January. Ages 13 and up, skiing or snowboarding, the GET (Guaranteed Easy Turns) package includes everything needed to get started: a lift ticket for easy-to-ride lifts, a 90 minute lesson with a special GET instructor in the carefully crafted Terrain Based Learning Zone and rental equipment. Must reserve 48 hours in advance.
Stratton Mountain Resort
January is the perfect time to learn a new sport or to resolve to ski and ride better – and have more fun this winter. Learn-to-Ski and Learn-to-Ride programs at Stratton Mountain include instruction, custom gear and learning park lift ticket. Women on Snow, or WoW, is a multi-day camp designed to supercharge skiing skills in an atmosphere of fun, fitness and camaraderie, and offered January 23-25, Feb. 6-8 and again March 4-6. For snowboarders, Girl’s Time Out is a women-only camp designed to make fearless riders of every woman with personalized instruction on everything from laying down turns to advanced technique and conquering new types of terrain, offered January 2-4 and January 30-February 1. Visit stratton.com for all the details.
Okemo Mountain Resort
Okemo’s First Tracks and Double Tracks learning packages, designed for first-time skiers and riders, include group lessons with a professional instructor and specialized equipment to make learning easier. First Tracks is a one-day program that provides the basic building blocks for enjoying the sport. Double Tracks builds on the skills learned the first day and adds a second morning of instruction, more time on the slopes and more opportunities to improve. Pricing is $75 and $140 respectively. From December 1-19, 2014, Okemo invites first-time skiers and snowboarders, ages 7 and older, to participate in a special Learn to Ski or Snowboard program - for just $39 - including one 2-hour session, rental equipment and a lower mountain lift ticket; Make reservations for 10 am-noon or 1:30-3:30 p.m. Learn more at okemo.com.
Killington celebrates National Learn to Ski and Ride Month with $29 Learn To packages (lessons, rentals and lift tickets all included) and the debut of the biggest Terrain Based Learning facility in the United States. For little learners, the Killington Ministars 4-day Discovery Camp will offer a full four days of lessons, a FREE 4-day lift ticket for mom or dad, and brand new skis, boots and bindings to keep. Space is limited; be sure to book ahead.
At Sugarbush, participants of the $29 learn to ski and ride lesson have the option to upgrade their lesson to the First Timer to Life Timer Program. A three-day program, the $29 lesson will count as the first day, with the next two days coming at a discounted price of $156. The total price of $185 is a savings of over 25% from the normal program. Upon completion of the third lesson, participants will receive a season pass good for the rest of the season.
Bolton Valley again will participate in the National Learn to Ski and Ride Month in January 2015 with a limited number of $29 learn to ski and ride packages, which include lift ticket, lesson and rental equipment any day in January, non-holiday (blacked out: Jan. 1, 17-19, 2015). All reservations can be made through skivermont.com for this special package. The package is for ages 4 and up for skiing and 6 and up for snowboarding and lessons begin at 10 a.m. Lessons are 1 1Ž2 hours for adults and 2 hours for kids 12 and under.
Smugglers’ Notch Resort
Smugglers’ is celebrating national Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month with a week-long special package from January 4-11, 2015 for first time skiers or riders. Level 1 & 2 skiers and riders on the Club Smugglers' Base Package will receive free beginner ski or snowboard group lessons, plus rental equipment for the entire length of stay. Smugglers’ National Learn to Ski Week special rates are $119 per adult/per night and $89 per youth/per night. This package also includes use of the pool and hot tubs, the indoor FunZone with games and climbing inflatables, snowtubing, daily lift tickets and family and adult entertainment. (www.smuggs.com/skivtw, 1-855-814-7325)
(Photos: Chandler Burgess, Killington Resort)