2015 DEC - Alpine Skiing & Snowboarding
Maximizing Your Ski Dollars
By Jeff Farbaniec
Skiing can be an expensive sport, but if you know how to take advantage of the many deals and discounts that are available you can easily ski or ride all winter without buying a single full-price lift ticket. Here are some tips to help you hit the slopes on the cheap:
You can’t beat the cost and convenience of your local ski hill. Not only are lift tickets less costly, you’ll save on travel costs as well. Leverage your savings with these deals:
Lift tickets for $20 are back by popular demand at West Mountain (westmtn.net) in Queensbury. Four-hour lift tickets are available Monday and Tuesday nights from 4pm-9pm for only $20. West also offers a $20 Breakfast Special and a $24 Lunch Special. The breakfast special is available every non-holiday Friday from 10am-12pm and includes a two-hour lift ticket, breakfast sandwich, and a cup of coffee in the cafeteria. The lunch special is offered every non-holiday Friday from 12-2pm and includes a two-hour lift ticket, a half sandwich and cup of soup, and a fountain drink in the cafeteria.
Willard Mountain (willardmountain.com) in Easton has $20 lift tickets on non-holiday Tuesday nights, and two-for-$30 lift tickets every non-holiday Thursday – bring a friend and you each ski from 4-9pm for just $15!
Maple Ski Ridge (mapleskiridge.com) in Rotterdam is another good bet for midweek snow time. Ski from 3-9pm for just $26 on non-holiday Tuesdays through Fridays all winter.
Just about all of the larger resorts offer frequent skier cards. These products are a low-cost alternative to a season pass, and pay for themselves in as little as two to three visits. Here’s a rundown of some of the best offerings:
The 2015-16 Empire Card (nyski3.com) is one of the best deals out there, and is good at Gore Mountain, Whiteface and Belleayre. For $99, your first day of skiing and riding is free. After that you get 50% off non-holiday lift tickets Monday through Friday, and 25% off weekends and holidays. On top of that, every sixth visit is free. Bring a friend on any non-holiday Tuesday or Thursday and they get a half-price lift ticket too!
The Sugarbush SugarDirect card (sugarbush.com) includes one free lift ticket, 50% off midweek rates, and 20% off weekend and holiday rates. Use the card ten times and ski your 11th day for free. Purchase the card by December 16 for $99.
Killington’s $99 Express Card (killington.com) gets you 50% off midweek lift tickets and 25% off weekend and peak day ticket rates. Use the express Card six times and your seventh visit is free. The express card can also be used at neighboring Pico Mountain.
Get a free day of skiing, non-holiday with Bromley’s $69 Sun Mountain Card (bromley.com). After that you save $30 off non-holiday Monday through Friday lift tickets, $20 off non-holiday weekends, and $10 off holidays for the rest of the season.
The $79 Mount Snow Fan Fare card (mountsnow.com) includes one free day of skiing (Sunday through Friday, non-holiday, anytime until the end of season), then save 30% on midweek non-holiday lift tickets, 20% on non-holiday weekends, and 10% on holidays.
The Stratton X2 Card (stratton.com) offers skiers and riders 35% off non-holiday lift tickets Monday through Friday, 25% off non-holiday weekends and 15% off holidays. The X2 Card costs $99 and comes pre-loaded with a bonus day that is valid any day, non-holiday, starting January 4, 2016.
Skiing with Kids
When you’ve got kids, you’ve got to work every possible angle to keep skiing affordable. The I Ski NY “Free for Kids” passport program (iskiny.com) allows third and fourth graders to ski or ride for free up to three times at each participating New York ski area. There is a $26 processing fee and you must fill out an application with proof of the child’s age. Free for Kids passports are available to non-New York residents as well, including Canadians. Vermont has a similar program for fifth graders and details are available at skivermont.com.
Keep Gore’s Kids Ski Free Weeks on your calendar too. The first week is Monday through Sunday, December 14-20 (goremountain.com). The second week is Saturday through Friday, March 19-25 (goremountain.com).
Lastly, remember that kids six and under ski for free at many New York and Vermont ski areas.
Join a Club
Membership in a ski club can give you access to bus trips and discounted lift tickets. The NY Capital District Ski Council’s website (nycdsc.org) lists member clubs and has a calendar that is absolutely chock full of discounted ski days at New York and Vermont resorts. Club dues vary, but typically begin at around $25 for an individual or $35 for a family. You’ll make that back on your first day.
Other Deals and Discounts
Here are a few more of the best deals and discounts available at ski areas throughout New York and Vermont:
Coca-Cola Why Not Wednesdays at Gore and Whiteface (whiteface.com): Lift tickets are $48 when you bring any unopened Coca-Cola product on non-holiday Wednesdays all season long.
At McCauley Mountain in Old Forge, Crazy Fridays have $12 lift tickets every non-holiday Friday this winter (mccauleyny.com) in Old Forge.
Mad River Glen has Roll Back the Clock Day on January 26 where you can ski for $3.50. Wear green on Saint Patrick’s Day on March 17 to ski for $17. Act like a fool in the ticket booth and you ski two for one on April Fool’s Day. More info at madriverglen.com.
At Bromley on Family Fridays, every full paying adult can purchase up to three teen or junior tickets for $20 each with the purchase of an all day lift ticket, and on “2-fer” Tuesdays you get a second lift ticket for free when you buy one all day, full price ticket. There’s also $25 “Dress Like Santa” on Christmas Day; Mom’s Day Off on Friday, February 5 where moms can ski or ride all day for a $20 donation to the Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center; and $17 lift tickets if you wear green on Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17. More info at bromley.com.
Mount Snow celebrates Founder’s Day on December 12, with discounted lift tickets online in advance – the first 1,000 tickets will be offered for $12. On January 10, kids 18 and under pay their age for a lift ticket. On February 12, two people ski for $59 if you buy in advance online. Saint Patrick’s Day lift tickets (March 17) are $17 when you buy online in advance. More info at mountsnow.com.
One final tip: Don’t forget to “like” your favorite ski areas on Facebook. Many ski areas announce special deals and discounts throughout the winter on their pages.
Winter is here and snow is in the air, so get outside to enjoy the best time of year!
Jeff Farbaniec is an avid telemark skier and Adirondack 46er who writes The Saratoga Skier & Hiker (saratogaskier.blogspot.com), a blog of his primarily Adirondack outdoor adventures.