Learn to Ski month offers plenty of options
There are all kinds of reasons people put off learning to ski.
• A dislike of the cold. Usually remedied by proper gear and avoiding the worst days.
• Fear that skiing is too difficult. Quality instructors can be found at every Utah resort.
• The cost. Discounted season and lift passes can be found throughout the year that make skiing comparable to other activities like attending sporting events.
If you have considered taking up skiing and avoided it for any of the reasons above or others, January 2014 could be the time you finally strap on the planks, snowboard or cross-country skis and hit the snow.
January is the annual national Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, and few states participate with special deals on lifts tickets, lessons and gear rentals at a higher level than Utah.
One of the most popular programs for locals to learn is StartNOW at Park City Mountain Resort. Open to locals who never have skied or perhaps tried years ago and want to get back into it, StartNOW includes five days of lift tickets, equipment rental and four days of lessons for $40 a day.
Unlike other deals, Park City Mountain Resort offers the program throughout the ski season with the exception of blackout dates around holidays.
A lot of Utah residents never have tried skiing or snowboarding before. Perhaps thinking their opportunity to learn passed them by when they were younger, they can't find a group of beginners their age or they don't think they can fit it into their budget.
StartNow removes all those barriers, making lift tickets, equipment and instruction available at an affordable price and putting students in a group of peers.
"We have been doing this since the 2009-10 season, and we saw several times the participation this past season than we did in the first year," Park City Mountain Resort spokesman Andy Miller said.
Several other Utah resorts offer similar programs.
A season-long option for kids is one of the best recreation-based deals in Utah. Even though the season is well underway, the Ski Utah Fifth- and Sixth-Grade Passport program still is available and very much worth the $30 processing fee.
With a Ski Utah Passport, fifth-grade students in Utah can ski for free at all 14 resorts (42 days worth of lift passes). The Sixth-Grade Passport is good for one day at each of the resorts.
"Participating in skiing and snowboarding keeps students active and happy during the cold winter months," Ski Utah marketing director Raelene Davis said. "The Passport is the most affordable way for students to get introduced to this incredible lifetime sport."
The Passport is available online at skiutah.com/passport.
Those looking for a little more aerobic aspect often turn to cross-country, or Nordic, skiing. Utah has a plethora of excellent groomed cross-country ski track. Some Nordic skiing destination-based trails require a fee, but many Forest Service trails are free.
Check the Utah Avalanche Center for the current avalanche danger rating if you are cross-country skiing in a new area.
Two Utah events are being held Jan. 11 as part of the national Winter Trails Day celebration.
Soldier Hollow Resort in Midway will be offering free trail passes, equipment and mini lessons to first-time Nordic skiers of all ages from 1 to 4 p.m.
Call 435-654-2002 or visit soldierhollow.com for more information.
Another Winter Trails Day event is being held at the North Fork Park in Liberty from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Ogden Nordic Winter Trails is putting on the event, which will feature a chance to try demo gear, take part in a cross-country ski clinic or go on a snowshoe tour. A trail pass donation of $6 is requested.
And if downhill and Nordic skiing still are too daunting, perhaps you could consider snowshoeing. There are a variety of options for learning snowshoeing or taking a hike on the snow.
People who don't have their own snowshoes can rent them from the park. Registration is required. Call 435-654-1791 or email Kathydonnell@utah.gov for more information.
Special deals being offered at Utah ski resort during the national "Learn to Ski Month" in January. Check the resort website or call for details and limitations.
Alta Ski Area • A first-time skiers package (four two-hour lessons, four beginner lift tickets and four days rental equipment) is being offered for $239. Enrollment is limited and reservations are required - 801-799-2271.
Brian Head Resort • First-timers can get a $45 beginner lesson (two-hour lesson with rental and restricted lift ticket). If participants want to continue with lessons, they can take two intermediate sessions for $45 each. Upon completion, participants can buy a season pass for half price.
Brighton Resort • Ski and snowboard intro packages are $49 and include a two-hour lesson, all-day rental and a day learner lift ticket. Visit http://www.brightonresort.com for more information.
Canyons Resort • The Lucky 13 promotion includes a $13 beginner lift ticket ($13), first time Learn to Ski or Snowboard lesson ($13) and equipment rental ($13). Call 877-472-6306 or 435-615-3449 for details.
Deer Valley Resort • Open to local first-time skiers, Deer Valley is holding its "Learn to Ski" program Jan. 25. The total cost is $39 per participant (lift ticket, rental and clinic). The clinics, limited to 55 people, will run from 9 a.m. to noon. Reservations must be made before Jan. 23. Call 888-754-8477 or 435-645-6648 and refer to "Ski Utah Learn to Ski Program" for information.
Park City Mountain Resort • The StartNOW program is open to first-time skiers and includes five days of lift tickets, equipment rental, lessons (four days) for $40 a day. Visit pcmr.com/startnow or call 800-545-8112 for more information.
Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort • The Learner Permit Program is open to skiers or riders 13 and older and include a 21/2-hour lesson, lift ticket and rental equipment for $50. Participants are eligible for five discounted adult group lessons and five additional days of skiing for half price. A similar program is offered for ages 7 to 12.
Solitude Mountain Resort • For $165, first-time skiers or snowboarders get three half-day lessons, equipment rental and day beginner lift tickets. Call 801-536-5730 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
Sundance Resort • Skiers and riders can get a 21/2 hour lesson, rental and day lift ticket for $75.
Wolf Mountain • Get a lift ticket, two-hour group lesson and rental for $39. Two bounce-back tickets are available for $10 off the next two packages.
Source: Ski Utah