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Brave Ski Mom – Saving Money on Ski Passes

Economics 101: Supply and Demand

Ski resorts and ski areas will be doing their absolute best this winter to keep everyone safe and healthy while maximizing fun. Resorts also need to maximize whatever profit they can. Early closures last spring harmed the ski industry’s bottom line. Capacity limitations this winter will again reduce revenue, but may make the individual lift tickets that are available more expensive. Supply will be limited. And while demand is uncertain, skiing and snowboarding on weekends and holidays will likely be expensive for skiers and snowboarders without season passes.

So as a parent, what do I do?

In a normal year, saving money on lift passes is straightforward. There are tried and true strategies particularly in North America. I recently spoke with a group of parents and here are their top tips:

1. Register for a “Ski Pass Programme”: Depending upon what grade your child is in, many states and all of Canada, offer complimentary skiing to students in grade 5 (~12 years old), and sometimes grades 4 and 6. These passes have one simple, yet brilliant, goal: to bring more kids to the snow by making skiing and snowboarding more affordable for families. This season, because of COVID-19, some of these passes are restricted to midweek skiing only, in an attempt to reduce crowds on weekends and holidays. The passes still offer great value, despite the irony of encouraging families to take their kids out of school to use their school passes.

2. Ski Midweek: With many schools at least partially online, this winter offers an opportunity for parents with flexibility to incorporate a family ski day into their midweek routine. In any winter, midweek skiing offers the most value, the shortest lift lines, and the smallest ski and snowboard school classes.

3. Be Independent: Martha Wilson is a New England ski mom. Her best tip is to ski and ride at independent ski areas. These mountains are well-kept secrets and the locals like it that way. And while most of them aren’t on anyone’s bucket list, the benefits are many with smaller crowds, good snow that lasts for days after a storm, and more room to explore, play, and learn.

4. Save Money on Food: For 2020-2021, this one is a no-brainer. With most lodges and public spaces restricted, or even closed, bringing lunch and snacks from home (don’t forget water!) is almost a necessity. Yes, some resorts will still sell you a grab-and-go burger for $20. But you can do better than that in your own kitchen.

5. Don’t Be Shy: This tip comes from New York ski mom, Jen Roe, who suggests asking your friends for hand-me-down ski clothing. “How many times have you spent a ton of money on new ski pants for your child to find out they no longer fit by spring?” she asks. Band together with other families to swap and share, save money and maximize the value of your family’s winter clothing.

6. Buy Used Gear: Ski swaps are a fall ritual in many mountain communities, a time when individuals and ski shops bring in gear to sell and trade, with a portion of proceeds often benefiting the local ski patrol. While social distancing put the kibosh on many swaps, local Facebook groups have stepped into the breach, as have consignment sporting goods stores. Ski mom Laura Dreher shares that “we can generally outfit our kids for a season for $100 and then resell the next year for what we paid.”

7. Season Rentals: Going to the rental shop each and every ski day is a hassle in terms of time and crowds. That’s why it makes sense to rent once for the entire season, thus minimizing the time spent renting and maximizing the time spent skiing and snowboarding.

8. Work or Volunteer at a Ski Area: This popular tip comes from parents who are ski instructors, ski patrol, mountain hosts, and ski resort employees. If you’ve got the time and the skills, your family will either ski free or at a heavily discounted rate if someone works or volunteers at a resort. Working at a ski area will not only save money, but “will change your life,” shares longtime children’s instructor Mark Conlon, following this up with his favorite ski tip, to “ski to the level of your smile.”

That’s great advice for any season, but especially this one. Enjoy the days you have. Make the most of your family time together on snow. Accept the temporary changes that this season is bringing.

Enjoy and keep smiling.

Hailing from Colorado (USA) Kristen Lummis, or as she is better known, the Brave Ski Mom, is an avid skier and true family mum in every sense of the word. www.braveskimom.com