BUSTING THE SKI MYTH THAT SNOW SPORTS ARE RESERVED FOR THE WEALTHY
THINK SKIING OR SNOWBOARDING IS OUT OF REACH? TOO EXPENSIVE? ONLY FOR THE RICH AND FAMOUS? THINK AGAIN! IT’S EASY TO HAVE BUDGET-FRIENDLY SNOWSPORT DAYS IN ALBERTA, HERE’S HOW:
When thinking of hitting the slopes, you might conjure up images of expensive alpine resorts, A-list celebrity vacations, chateaus and Champagne après. While it’s true that the rich and famous have long enjoyed trips to ski or snowboard mountain regions around the world, snow sports are definitely not reserved for the wealthy. Getting outdoors and having fun in the snow is an Albertan way of life – and there are many savvy ways to steal a deal!
So, if you’re on a budget, or just looking for ways to get your family active outdoors without breaking the bank, follow our top tips for wallet-friendly snow days – and you’ll be on those slopes without any worry of splurging. Here’s how:
NO GEAR? NO PROBLEM
Yes, it’s true: skiing and snowboarding comes with a checklist of required gear, but you don’t need to own half of the local ski store to get your start on the slopes! Check out your community ski area for available rental equipment or your closest sports shop for reasonable rental rates. Or search local Facebook groups and sites like Kijiji; chances are you’ll come across someone looking to switch, or sell, their gear, and many sellers are offering curbside pick-up – you might just find exactly what you’re looking for. As with all buy and sell sites, make sure you ask the owner questions to check you’re getting exactly what you’re after.
GO SKI ALBERTA EXTRA TIP: When buying used gear, be aware – the best equipment for an expert skier is usually not ideal for a new skier. A local specialty store is a sure bet for getting the best advice and ensuring you’re getting the best equipment for your needs (and skill level). Store-bought gear is also often professionally tuned up, with experts on hand to give you tips on the best fit and answer all your questions!
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that ski days mean lodge lunches all round! Yes, it’s always nice to have the resort’s bistro menu to indulge in after a day of chasing each other down the runs, but there are other ways to get that refuel at the hill! Get creative with packed lunches! Pack the kids’ bags with something delicious and nutritious from home and you’ll have lunches to go, and instant après snacks – all you’ll need to do is find a good spot for a stop-off! Flasks can also be your friend when it comes to having a quick hot cocoa break. And just think of the time you’ll save avoiding the lodge line-ups!
Plus, this is the season to embrace the fun of a good ol’ tailgate! Gather your ski cohort after rippin’ on the runs and enjoy a much-deserved snack and après refreshment from the comfort of your car trunk. Talk about the day’s highlights and enjoy some backpack treats with your nearest and dearest; you might find it the most fun way to end your ski day!
GO SKI ALBERTA EXTRA TIP: Heads up; many ski resorts will be restricting personal belonging storage in the lodges, so be prepared for keeping all your gear with you or left safely in your vehicle.
SAVVY SKI PASS SAVINGS
Here in Alberta, we’re fortunate to have over 30 ski areas! And that means there’s a mountain of discounted ski days, pass savings, and budget-friendly package bundles to be discovered across each corner of the Province. Check online (https://goskialberta.com/offers/ – link to our deals section for lots of deals) for which savings program or discount card works best for you and your cohort, such as the Marmot Basin Escape Card (Marmot Basin Ski Resort, Jasper), that’ll get you 50% off regular lift tickets (plus resort savings on rentals, lessons, gear and more) for the whole family, all season long. Mount Norquay’s Big Drop Card offers similar benefits if heading to the mountains of Banff, and Lake Louise Ski Resort’s ‘Lake Louise Plus’ card gets you 20% off all lift tickets all season long, free days on your 1st, 4th, and 7th visits, and a bonus 30% off saving on full-day lift tickets for up to two friends (valid April 12 to May 2, 2021).
Check out goskialberta.com/offers, or a call to your local hill will get you the info you need for extra-value lift ticket buys.
BIG DISCOUNTS FOR THE LITTLES
Have kiddies in elementary school? Keen to get them out trying some snow terrain without spending big? Well, The Canada Ski Council has the solution! Take advantage of the Grade 4 + 5 Snow Pass; with one-time application fee of $29.99, kids can ski and snowboard for free – not just once, but twice! – at select resorts in the Province!
Additionally, many ski areas offer special discounts for even younger ones. For families of Grade Two’ers, the Grade 2 Lake Louise Pass and the RCR Grade 2 Fun Pass means your Grade Two’er can ski or ride all season long (yes, you read that right!), for just $20! Be sure to check out your local ski hill, as some even offer FREE skiing for children under 5.
SAVE MONEY MID-WEEK
Don’t just live for the weekend! If you’ve got some flexibility in your schedule, then opt for a mid-week ski or snowboard day! Not only will it typically be much quieter at your local ski hill, but there’s often extra savings to be uncovered when you ski outside of the popular Saturdays and Sundays. Check out the website of your local ski area to see what mid-week deals and discounts they’re offering this season – perfect for shift workers, students, or those currently working from home (the boss doesn’t need to know you’re taking a lunch break on your skis, do they?). 🙂
HALF-DAY SKI HACKS
This season, with COVID-19 precautions, some resorts across the Province have introduced half-day passes – and half-day ski days come at smaller prices! Ski or ride knowing you don’t have to carve out the whole day to get the value of a full-day ticket; head out after lunch and save! Mt. Norquay is one resort that now has afternoon-only tickets, valid from 12-4pm (with unlimited access to all the resort’s lifts). Similarly, skiers and riders can steal a deal at Sunshine Village Ski Resort right now, with an afternoon adventure pass; for just $79, skiers and riders can hop on the gondola any time after noon and enjoy unlimited runs ‘til last chair (available on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and select holidays; $104 Monday – Thursday.
SILVER SAVINGS FOR SENIORS
Snowsports aren’t just for the young; the young at heart can embrace the thrills of sliding on the slopes too. For those silver skiers and snowboarders, many resorts across the Province offer special seniors’ rates – with some of them applicable to visitors as young as 55 years! So, whether you’re keen to give skiing or snowboarding a whirl for the first time, want to keep up with the grandkids for future family ski weekends, or just getting your ski legs back after years away from the hill, there’s no excuse to discover your inner child and have a fun day out on snow!
Senior passes at Edmonton Ski Club are only $10 for the entire day (55+), a senior ticket at Rabbit Hill Snow Resort will cost you $17 (55-69s), and then there’s the resort’s ‘super senior’ pass, which is completely free to the over 70s – that’s any day, all day! Castle Mountain also invite skiers and riders over 70 to the resort for no charge, and Pass Powderkeg’s ‘super senior’ rate is just $14.99 for +75s, available at all times.
TINY TERRAIN MEANS TINY PRICES
Calling all newbies! It’s not always known to beginner skiers and riders that some ski areas open up their learner terrain completely free of charge, and many offer a low cost learning ticket! So, if you’re just getting your stride on a board or skis, and spending your time on the bunny hill, see if your local ski area offers learner terrain rates for beginners! No matter your age, at Pass Powderkeg, it’s always free to hop on the bunny hill and learn your turns. At Vista Ridge, a beginner lift ticket is only $12, at Kinosoo Ridge Snow Resort $12.50, and $12 at Tawatinaw Valley. So, what are you waiting for?! Go get your practice runs in!
MAKE A NIGHT OF IT!
Who says skiing and riding’s for daylight hours only? Embrace your skier night owl, and you might be surprised at the savings to be had – not to mention the fun you’ll have sliding down the spot-lit runs, skiing and riding under the stars. Canyon Ski Resort offers a ‘Thrifty Thursday Night’ evening ski pass for only $29, and Rabbit Hill Snow Resort has a Tuesday Night Special, where between 5-9pm, lift tickets and rentals are just $8 each! Perfect for families just starting out; the whole crew can borrow some gear and get out there for less than $20 per family member!
GO SKI ALBERTA EXTRA TIP: For the current season, it’s all about online research and a little ‘know before you go’ pre-planning is king. Often, you’ll need to buy your tickets in advance of your visit; before heading out, check your local ski area for up-to-date info on savings programs and how to purchase – and don’t forget to check out the Go Ski Alberta offers page: goskialberta.com/offers