Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month and Canada's 150th Birthday

Aspen Snowmass (Courtesy of Aspen Skiing Company)
Learning something new is on many people's list of New Year Resolutions. The 9th Annual "Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month" (LSSM) is, therefore, very timely with ski resorts across North America offering dazzling discounts on lessons. During the past eight winter seasons, 750,000 first-timers have participated in the persuasive program, hopefully leading to a lifelong love of wintersports. 

Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month
On Jan 6 over 80 resorts and ski areas are combining in a second attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the largest multi-venue ski lesson and also multi-venue snowboard lesson ever held. "We are partnering this year with the Canadian Ski Council on the attempt to set a Guinness Record for the largest ski and the largest snowboard lessons ever," says LSSM/BAF Director, Mary Jo Tarallo. "We are very excited about our partnership and feel that we have a very good chance to set the record." Last year's US-only attempt generated an incredible amount of media publicity for snow sports. About 6,000 people took lessons during the events. "Lack of required documentation was the only reason we did not set the official Guinness record but we did set an industry record," Tarallo explains.

BAF Program - courtesy of Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month
You can be an Ambassador for the LLSM Bring a Friend (BAF) program by signing up just one newbie for a lesson, a gift that they will always remember you for - and you could win a prize! The 2016 Ambassador of the Year, high school teacher Cindy Rust from Idaho, won a Burton apparel ensemble. You can find the list of packages and potential prizes at: learntoskiandsnowboard.orgOne of the main motivations for newcomers to start skiing and snowboarding is to join family or friends in a sociable sport - so keep on snapchatting, tweeting and instagraming all your ski pics to encourage them! Another incentive is winter exercise: 155-pound adult can burn 422 calories an hour skiing at a moderate speed, and a 70-pound youth can burn 181 calories.

Help woo wintersport wannabees by telling them about all the latest equipment. "Beyond these financial- and health-focused motivating factors, it is now commonly accepted that today it is easier to learn to ski and snowboard due to improved equipment," Tarallo points out. "It is also more affordable due to the discount programs noted above and new websites offering discounted equipment and lift tickets." And today's warm, windproof and waterproof clothing - along with all the heated boots, rechargeable battery-heated socks, vests, gloves, scarves and goggles - will also allay their fears of being too cold. 

Courtesy of Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month
Many Vermont resorts, including Bromley, Pico and Killington, are giving away lift tickets to those who introduce a “friend” to the association’s Take 3 lessons package. "The snow sports industry has developed so many creative, economical ways for children and adults to get outside in the winter to ski or snowboard. These sports are a terrific way to stay active all year long,” says Tarallo. "People often hear about the high priced, single-day, walk up to the ticket counter cost of buying a lift ticket, but the reality is that there are many ways to save if you know where to look." 

Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month
LSSM/BAF Chair Raelene Davis, Ski Utah's Director of Marketing, notes "As the chair of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard/Bring a Friend initiative, I have seen, first hand, the success of our industry programs to engage newcomers and especially on how to enable children to experience and enjoy being active in the winter outside." In Utah during January, many resorts are offering a $49 Learn to Ski or Snowboard package for Utah adults and children. Participating resorts include Alta, Beaver Mountain, Brian Head, Brighton, Deer Valley, Nordic Valley, Park City, Powder Mountain, Snowbird, Solitude and Sundance. The package includes a beginner lesson, equipment rental and a beginner lift ticket - see For example at Powder Mountain, just outside Ogden, UT (one of the resorts I will be skiing in late Feb!) the LSSM offer is $49 for ages 13 and up and includes lift ticket, group lesson and equipment rental. Remember to mention "Learn to Ski Month" at the time of reservation and note that the offer is not valid January 1-6 & January 14-16. 

In Colorado, Steamboat’s Learn to Ski/Ride Package includes two days of lessons, rentals and lift tickets for just $199 from January 9-31. Learn to Ski/Ride is available for adults and children ages 1st Grade and older. For more information, visit

Sunlight By DeAnna TreVizo
Sunlight's Learn to Shine 3-pack offers three days of lessons with a professional instructor including rentals and lift tickets, plus an additional 5 days of skiing and riding for just $395. On Jan 6, Sunlight will once again become America's most affordable ski area for a day as part of its 30th Annual Skier Appreciation Day, offering skiers and riders $20 lift tickets. All lift ticket proceeds are donated to the United Way of Garfield County. The event has raised more than $200,000 for local charities. Sunlight also hosts its annual Student/Teacher Appreciation Day on Sunday, January 10, with free lift tickets for teachers and $20 lift tickets for students. For more information, visit

Winter Park by Carl Frey
Colorado’s oldest Ski and Ride School has a pair of specials to celebrate Learn to Ski and Ride month. During January, first-timers receive 25 percent off of a Fast Track 5 lesson, a convenient half-day semi-private lesson that is limited to five students per instructor. The special is valid Mon-Thurs in Jan - book online in advance. Also on Jan 6, the resort is taking part in the World's Largest Lesson attempt and offering 25 percent off a Fast Track 5 Lesson for that day. Winter Park Resort is excited to be a part of the World’s Largest Ski Lesson because it highlights how easy it is for beginners of any age to pick up the sport," says Steve Hurlbert, Director of PR & Communications. "The lifeblood of any activity is a constant influx of new participants, and Winter Park is dedicated to instilling a love for skiing and snowboarding that so many of us share. The World’s Largest Ski Lesson is not only a great way to instill that love but it also showcases the great lesson programs Winter Park has to offer.” The record attempt will take place in seven different time zones: 9 am Alaska time, 10 am Pacific, 11 am Mountain, 12 noon Central, 1 pm Eastern, 2 pm Atlantic and 2:30 Newfoundland time. Participating USA resorts can be found HERE and the Canadian Ski Council has Canadian details at: They also list 70 resorts in Canada that are offering $25 first-time ski and ride lesson packages during January. The event is a collaboration between Learn to Ski and Snowboard Initiative, the National Ski Areas Association, Professional Ski Instructors of America, SnowSports Industries America and SNOW Operating.
Aspen Snowmass (Courtesy of Aspen Skiing Company) 
At Aspen Snowmass the LSSM offer is the Beginner's Magic Group Lesson for participants 18 and older and includes a full-day lesson, beginner rental equipment, and beginner area lift ticket. "Taking a lesson with other like-minded new students can help the entire group succeed," says Kevin Jordan from Snowmass. "What we do extremely well and are constantly improving at Aspen Snowmass is creating a learning environment that is comfortable, supportive, and instills confidence in the individual." Jordan, who is the Children's Coordinator for Ski and Snowboard Schools at Aspen Snowmass, says that it is a question of teaching people how to become skiers and snowboarders versus teaching people how to ski or snowboard. In order to do this, the ski area has partnered with SNOW Operating to include Terrain Based Learning (TM) features to help facilitate fun and accelerate the learning process. "We also believe in experiential learning or learning by doing. In other words, we help guide the learning process so that the individual owns or anchors their learning," Jordan explains. Expectations may be different for participants on their first time out, he points out. Thus instructors have to be talented multi-taskers, including guiding, coaching, managing fear, presenting challenges and removing physical and mental obstacles. He tries to put his most experienced instructors with never-ever participants in order for the beginners to benefit from the vast wealth of experience when challenges and frustrations arise. "New participants don't know what they don't know," he says. "Encourage them to ask many questions." Aspen Snowmass is also taking part in the Jan 6 World's Largest Lesson Attempt.

    Aspen Snowmass (Courtesy of Aspen Skiing Company) 
    Happy Anniversary Canada!

    As part of the the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, Parks Canada is giving everyone free admission to national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas for the entire year. Typically visitors to Sunshine Village, Mt Norquay, Lake Louise in Banff National Park and Marmot Basin in Jasper National Park have to pay a daily or annual fee for park access so this will be another saving for skiers and snowboarders. I say 'another' because if you are coming to Canada from the USA the exchange rate is supreme! You can take 25 percent off all the prices, making it the best year to Ski Canada!
    Sunshine Village, near Banff - Photo by Dan Evans, courtesy of SkiBig3


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