‘Humans were never meant to hibernate” is the motto for January’s Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month and Bring a Friend initiative. Snowsports industry members, including national, regional and state associations, individual resorts, the trade media, product suppliers and retailers, have banded together to encourage newcomers to be introduced to the world of skiing and riding.
Resorts throughout New England will offer special deals in January to get you and your family enjoying the slopes in the easiest, most affordable way possible. If you are already a skier or boarder, the Bring a Friend program encourages you to introduce your buddies to the sport and offers incentives for doing so. Of course lessons from professional ski and snowboard instructors are available all season long, but this month brings out the best deals. And after your introductory lesson or lessons, you’ll have the rest of the season to continue learning, improve and relish the snow.
Many New Hampshire areas are offering a $39 lift, lesson and rentals beginner package for downhill skiing and riding, and a $19 trail pass, lesson and rentals beginner package at cross-country ski areas. Specific details vary at different areas but the purpose is to get new skiers and riders out on the slopes at a reasonable cost. Choose where you want to go and contact them for details.
New Hampshire also celebrates Bring a Friend Weekend Jan. 5-7. If you’re a skier, bring a friend to join you, or to take a lesson, and earn discounts for yourself or your friend. Again, offers vary from area to area, but all encourage getting your friends out on the snow.
A majority of Ski Vermont’s member resorts are celebrating Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month by offering a $49 beginner package to first-time skiers in January. This deeply discounted package includes a lift ticket to the beginner terrain, a lesson with a professional instructor and rental equipment. Bring a Friend Vermont rewards those already into the sport who refer a friend to the Take 3 Beginner Package and show them the ropes as they arrive for their first lesson with free lift tickets and entrance into a drawing for a two-night getaway next season. Check with your favorite area or Ski Vermont for more details.
Both Vermont and New Hampshire have a Passport program. In Vermont the Fifth Grade Passport is available to all fifth-graders for just a $10 fee. Fifth-graders will receive a booklet with coupons for three free lift tickets to each of the alpine resorts and one to three trail passes for each nordic area. This amounts to 88 days of downhill skiing, snowboarding or cross-country skiing. Passport holders must be accompanied by a ticket or pass-holding adult, but each adult may bring two passport holders. And, passports are available to any fifth-grader, no matter where they live.
According to Chloe Elliott, communications manager for Ski Vermont, “The Fifth Grade Passport program is open for everyone. I’ve even had a family from France get one!”
If you like to experience different mountains in all areas of the state, this is a very affordable way to get the family on the slopes and trails together. And for the seventh year, the program gives back to the state, as proceeds are donated to the agricultural and environmental community in Vermont. This year it will benefit the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative.
New Hampshire’s Passport is open to kids in fourth and fifth grades. They may come from near and far — you don’t have to live in New Hampshire to qualify for the Passport. For a fee of $30 dollars, fourth- and fifth-graders get one free lift ticket or trail pass to each of Ski New Hampshire’s 34 alpine and cross-country areas. Parents are not required to purchase a lift ticket. The organization also gives back to the state by donating a percentage of passport sales to the Make-A-Wish-Foundation of New Hampshire.
Ragged Mountain in Danbury, N.H., is continuing its innovative and hugely successful Bebe Wood Learn to Ski and Ride Free program. It consists of a series of three lessons with rentals for first-time skiers and riders ages 7 and up.
The program includes three two-hour lessons and a complete rental outfit for the lessons — skis, boots and poles for skiers, a snowboard and snowboard boots for riders — all for free. The lessons may be taken on consecutive days or spread throughout the season. At the conclusion of each lesson, students may purchase a lift ticket for the rest of the day for $20. Graduates of the program, after completing all three lessons, receive a diploma and the opportunity to buy a season pass for $69. If they wish to have additional lessons, these are available for $29 the rest of this season or next season. Last year the resort hosted more than 2,200 first-timers; 70 percent of them took their second lessons; 93 percent of those took their third lesson and completed the program; 53 percent of the graduates purchased a season pass. In the season immediately following their graduating year, diploma holders may purchase the Expanded Horizons season pass for $199. Another benefit for those who complete the program is the opportunity to purchase from Rossignol (supplier of the rentals) a complete ski or snowboard equipment package at the discounted rate of $199 for children and $299 for adults.
The ski school uses three different learning stations, allowing students to progress from one to the other as soon as they are ready. According to Terry Gregg, Ragged’s Learning Center Manager, “We’ve had great success with the Bebe Wood program. One of the main reasons is that we don’t hold people back. As soon as they are ready, they are moved to the next level. Some can go through three stations within the two-hour lesson.”
Ragged’s marketing manager, Ben Hall, says, “The biggest success in this program is that we introduce people not just to the sport of skiing and snowboarding but to the culture and lifestyle that we all love so much. They become a part of a community. This year we had 500 people signed up before the program even launched.”
As for other events and activities during January of interest to families, Sunday River celebrates families and snowsports with the Children’s Festival from Jan. 8-12. Kids ages 4 through 12 can get lift tickets, take lessons, rent equipment and stay at the Grand Summit or Jordan Hotel for free with a parent any three nights or longer during this period. Plus the week is full of fun activities off the slopes. Kids and their parents can be wowed by the skills and dexterity of magician Phil Smith; the Wild Winter Adventure Carnival has a variety of adventure based games and activities; Mike the Bubble Man explores science through bubbles; and a winter celebration at South Ridge features snow tubing, visits from Eddie and Betty the Yetis followed by a family buffet at the Foggy Goggle. Packages start at $245/night for a standard room, and one-, two- or three-bedroom units with kitchens are also available. The number of kids eligible is determined by the maximum occupancy of each room. Special lift tickets for teens can be added to the packages.
At Wachusett Mountain on Jan. 6-7, adults and children ages 10 and older can experience the thrill of the luge, dubbed the fastest sport on ice. The Norton Luge Challenge will have Olympians, medalists and coaches teaching the basics of the sport on a recreational sled.
Jan. 7 is Youth Day at Mount Snow in Vermont. Youths ages 17 and under pay just $17 for a lift ticket. The whole family can enjoy a day on the slopes while saving money. College Week runs from Jan. 8-12 with special lodging deals, nightly entertainment, free tubing and $29 lift tickets on Thursday. The second of three Grommet Jams will be Jan. 15. For skiers and riders 12 and under, there’ll be coaching and instruction in the Grommet park at Carinthia in the morning. Afternoon will feature a fun park competition with an awards ceremony, prizes and a raffle to follow. It’s a great way for the little jibbers to learn, compete and generally have fun.
Looking for a challenge, fun and the opportunity to aid a good cause? Come to the sixth annual 24 Hours of Stratton. This chance to ski or ride around the clock benefits Vermont children in need and lets participants enjoy partying, skiing, riding, camaraderie, music, fireworks and more on Jan. 6-7. Starting off with a party Friday night and a 9 a.m. start on Saturday, it wraps up with a breakfast and awards ceremony Sunday. Enter as a team of up to 12 or go it alone, all for a great cause.
If you want to learn cross-country skiing, Bretton Woods’ Learn to Nordic Ski Free Week is for you. Jan. 7-12, the resort offers one nordic lesson in classic technique, rental equipment, an all-day trail pass, an invitation to a BBQ in March and a discount card with special benefits, all for free. Reservations must be made 24 hours in advance.
Whether your family’s interests run to skiing, snowboarding or both, there’s plenty of opportunity to learn new skills or improve the ones you already have while having loads of fun on and off the hill this season.