Skiing on a budget: Families can hit the slopes without breaking the bank

From discounts to rentalsto special programs, there are ways for families to save

Published: Thursday, Jan. 3 2013 3:15 p.m. MST

Renting is a great option. For as little as $80 a season, parents can get updated equipment early in the season and not return it until the end of the season.

Ski 'N See offers a unique rental program. For $350, parents can upgrade ski and snowboard equipment during most of a child's growing years, which in some cases can be up to 10 years. It's based on size, not age. Children can start in boot sizes for 2- or 3-year-olds and skis at 80 centimeters and continue to upgrading sizes, as warranted, to a woman's 51/2 and men's 61/2 and skis up to 140 centimeters.

A.J. Motions Sports offers junior rental packages for $79.99 a season and adult rentals for $99.99 a season.

It can also pay for people to rent by the day for those planning limited ski or snowboard time. A daily rental at Motions for juniors is $11.90 when booked online and $15.40 online for an adult. It's $15.40 for junior snowboard equipment and $22.40 a day when booked online for an adult package.

Canyon Sports offers a daily junior ski package for $15.99 at the store, but $12.79 if booked online. An adult package is $24.99 at the store or $19.99 online. An adult snowboard package is $29.99 at the store or $23.99 online and a junior package is $20.99 at the store or $16.79 booked online.

A benefit to renting vs. hand-me-downs for children is that rental equipment is updated typically every two to three years, where hand-me-downs can have old technology and, in some cases, be dangerous. Shops, for example, are now allowed to work on old bindings.

Programs

January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, a national program intended to introduce people — young and old — to skiing and snowboarding inexpensively. The goal is to put 10,000 people through the program, says Susie English, director of communications for Ski Utah.

Among the offers are:

Park City Mountain Resort offers a "StartNOW" learn-to-ski-snowboard program. It is exclusively for Utah residents ages 6 and older who are first-time learners. Students get five lessons, ski or snowboard equipment and lift access. Cost is $200.

Snowbasin offers a Learn and Earn program for first-time boarders and skiers. This program is for people ages 7 and up and includes five lessons, rentals and lift access, plus a free season pass after the completion of the sessions that is good after Jan. 22. Cost is $295.

Food

If you don't want the expense of eating at a resort, consider putting an energy bar in the pocket to eat on the lift. With today's high-speed lifts, it's possible to get a complete day of skiing or boarding in within a few short hours, so a little pick-me-up is all that's needed.

Resort food may cost more, but it's far more convenient. Also, there are items on the menus that are a bargain. Then there's always to option of a sack lunch eaten in the car.

Preseason

The best bargains for both equipment and passes are the preseason sales and swaps.

Park City Mountain Resort, for example, offered a preseason 10-day EZ Access pass for $585 to Utah residents only, which drops the ticket price from $102 at the window to $58.50 a day. Brighton offered a five-book package for $245, which makes a day pass only $49. Other resorts offer similar bargains to Utah residents when purchased preseason.

Better bargains can be had during the summer and around the big Labor Day sales when ski and snowboard equipment and clothing go on sale.

And there are a number of ski/snowboard swaps in November, including those at Snowbird, Park City, Rowmark, Snowbasin and Weber State.

What makes ski/snowboard swaps so good is that they are one of the best ways the average skier and/or snowboarder can sell equipment and clothing children have outgrown or adults choose to upgrade.

Some of the equipment and clothing are like new and typically are of the latest technology. Prices, however, reflect a desire to sell. Some of the sales are large and equipment ranges from skis and snowboards to clothing to accessories, such as gloves, hats, parkas, and cross country equipment and snowshoes.

Again, skiing and snowboarding need not be as expensive as people believe if they would but do a little planning before heading into the hills.

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