January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month all across the country, and New England resorts are all in. If you or a friend have thought about trying to learn skiing or riding but were deterred by expense or just the uncertainty of how to go about it, then this is the month to take that first step.
Resorts throughout the region are offering special packages making it easy, and affordable, for newbies to make their first turns in a comfortable, nurturing environment. We’ve all heard horror stories of friends taking first-time skiers to the top of the mountain and saying “point ’em down and see you at the bottom.”
Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month aims to avoid that scenario and provide a safe, nonthreatening introduction to skiing and riding so participants will turn their first experience into a lifelong activity that can be shared with friends and family and perhaps change their whole outlook on winter.
In Vermont the majority of resorts are offering a $49 package, in January, for newcomers to snowsports that includes a beginner lesson from a professional ski or snowboard instructor, all the rental equipment you need and a lift ticket to the area’s beginner terrain. This provides the learner with the basics he or she needs to continue with confidence, or better yet, the knowledge that continuing with a few more lessons is the best way to reach a level of enjoyment that will make their winter a time to cherish, not dread.
According to Adam White, director of communications for Ski Vermont, “The ski industry is focused on growing their participation base. The month of January is important because of the industry-wide push to get beginners to come out. January is when skiing and riding is best. Resorts want to put their best foot forward, and this program encourages people to come out then.”
In addition, by starting the learning process in January, new participants will have the rest of the season to take more lessons, practice on their own and enjoy all the new skills they’ve learned for the next couple of months or more. Each member resort might have specific requirements for participation. Contact the resort directly for more information.
Many New Hampshire resorts also participate in Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, offering the beginner package for $39 during the month of January with a beginner lift ticket, a lesson and rental equipment. The state’s cross-country centers participate with a price of $19 for a trail pass, rental gear and a lesson. Taking a lesson on your first time out can really make all the difference in your enjoyment of skiing and/or riding and your interest in continuing participation. You should check with the individual resorts on their particular restrictions and availability. Other resorts have specific deals for beginners that might run for the entire season.
Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month also incorporates the Bring A Friend initiative. Friends are encouraged to introduce their friends and family to snowsports both as a means of growing the sport and also as a measure to retain current participants by helping to ensure they have skiing buddies. Skiing and snowboarding are, after all, social activities often best enjoyed with a companion. The Bring A Friend program rewards those already into snowsports and folks just starting out by offering incentives to introduce a friend into the sport. If you already are a skier or boarder, bring a newcomer along with you to join the program. If you’re new yourself, bring a friend to learn with you. The Bring A Friend challenge, running for all of January, offers prizes for introducing a friend to the world of snow. You can enter each time during the month that you bring a new person to take the beginner package at participating resorts.
Jan. 11 is very special — it is Learn to Ski or Snowboard Day. Organizers will attempt to set a world record for the number of beginner lessons taught in one day. Currently the record is 6,002. By joining on this particular day, you can become part of history. Check the resorts in your state, or where you want to go, for specific resort offers on that day.
Mary Jo Tarallo, executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard/Bring a Friend Initiative, has worked tirelessly to develop and expand this program. “The Learn to Ski and Snowboard/Bring a Friend initiative gives beginner skiers and snowboarders some very affordable options for learning the sports early in the season, since January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month,” Tarallo said. “It’s probably the best time for beginners to learn from professional instructors because they can take advantage of special deals being offered by resorts throughout the month. This year, we are highlighting the sports on national Learn to Ski and Snowboard Day. We want to see how many lessons can be provided in one day throughout the U.S. It will be fun and a great way to get out and enjoy the outdoors.”
Some New England states also offer a “Passport” or similar program to encourage kids to get out on the slopes and trails. The Ski NH Snowsports Passport is available to all students in grades 4 and 5 whether you live in New Hampshire or are from out of state. The Passport contains one voucher for each of the state’s 32 alpine and cross-country centers and sells for $30. Users are able experience a variety of resorts in each discipline while paying less than $1 a day for all that fun and excitement. A percentage of the funds generated by this program is donated to Make a Wish Foundation of New Hampshire.
Vermont’s fifth-grade passport program offers three coupons for each participating alpine area and one coupon for each crosscountry area, giving the passport holders up to 88 days of skiing and riding. There is a $10 processing fee, the proceeds of which are donated to Vermont’s Working Lands Enterprise Initiative. The student must be accompanied by a ticket or pass holding adult, and each adult may accompany two passport holders.
More than 75,000 fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders have participated in the WinterKids passport program in Maine over the past 20 years. This year, the program is more convenient, inclusive and versatile. Through the WinterKids App, you can sign up for a membership and access all the programs offered to members, including some new and enhanced benefits. This season the membership is $35 and includes five family members. It expands its reach to kids 18 and under and to New Hampshire as well as Maine. Membership grants access to discounts and offers to more than 50 WinterKids partners in both states. Partners will have at least one, possibly more, standard offers throughout the season. In addition, with the digital nature of the program, new offers may be posted throughout the season. Members can opt to receive push notifications from their favorite partners.