Think the sport of skiing is so outrageously expensive that it's reserved exclusively for the six-figure crowd? With single-day adult lift tickets flirting with $70 at some ski areas, you'd be forgiven for thinking so. But don't hang up your skis just yet. There are still some great deals out there, particularly those offered by state skiing associations. For instance: With the General Sampler Pass ($195) from Ski New Mexico, you can ski twice at each of New Mexico's 11 resorts for under $9 a day. The following list represents some of the best lift-ticket deals going.
SNOWFEST GOLD TICKET $360
This pass is good for 23 days of skiing midweek and on the weekends that fall during Snowfest (March 3¿12). Limited to two days each at all North Lake Tahoe and Donner Summit ski areas, the pass is transferable, and two tickets may be redeemed on the same day. Use every ticket and you're skiing for less than $16 a day. Holiday black-out periods apply. 250 tickets are available.
SKI CHICAGOLAND ASSOCIATION LIFT TICKET BOOKLET $45
One ticket to each of the five areas near Chicago. Yup, that's nine bucks for a day of skiing. Tickets are valid any day of the week and are nontransferable. 400 booklets are available.
SKI MAINE PASSBOOK $525
A total of 46 tickets to 16 areas: four each to Sunday River, Sugarloaf/ USA, Saddleback, and four other big areas, and two tickets to each of Maine's nine smaller areas. All of a specific area's tickets can be redeemed on the same day. And since they're valid any day of the week, and are transferable, you and three friends can ski Sugarloaf on a Saturday for less than $12 apiece.
WHITE GOLD CARD $149
Good for one ticket at each of 22 Michigan ski areas. Tickets are valid any day of the week except for a Christmas black-out period and are nontransferable. Use just eight of the tickets and you're paying $18 a day. 400 cards are available.
SKI 93 PASS $450
A total of 65 tickets to Bretton Woods, Cannon, Loon, Tenney Mountain, and Waterville Valley (12 tickets for each resort plus an additional five days at the resort of the pass holder's choice). Since tickets are only valid midweek and are nontransferable, it would be tough to use them all. But ski 15 days and you're down to $30 per day. 250 passes are available.
THIS PASS SOLD OUT!!!GENERAL SAMPLER PASSPORT $195
Good for two tickets at each of New Mexico's 11 resorts. Valid for 12 months from the time of purchase. Two tickets may be used on the same day and tickets are valid any day of the week, save holidays. Skiing for less than nine dollars a day will leave plenty of money for margaritas¿or lodging. 200 passes are available.
Info: 505-982-5300 THIS PASS SOLD OUT!!!
SKI VERMONT PASSPORT $105
Three tickets to any of 18 Vermont ski areas. Tickets are valid any day, excluding holidays. The passport cannot be purchased by Vermont residents, and the tickets must be used at three different resorts. How does Killington, Sugarbush, and Stowe for $35 a pop sound? Last year 2,000 passports were available.
YOUTH CORPS SKI CARD $275
One ticket to each of 18 Vermont ski areas. Tickets are good midweek or weekend, but holiday black-out periods do apply. Use every ticket and you'll be making turns for just over $15 a day. Not bad at all. The card is nontransferable and open to all ages. 130 are available.
¿Additional research by Chris Estes