How to Save at the Slopes

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), January 30, 2012 | Go to article overview

How to Save at the Slopes


Byline: Associated Press

Skiers and snowboarders can finally rejoice over the season's chill, but the long-delayed snowfall won't make it any easier to traverse the steep cost of winter sports.

Here are tips on shopping around and timing your next ski or snowboarding trip to get the best deals on equipment, lift tickets and lodging.

Gear head

Preparing for a trip to the snow can be daunting, especially for a novice trying to amass all the equipment, from skis, boots and poles -- or a board and boots -- to goggles and a jacket.

Start by repurposing things you already own: thermals, your heaviest winter jacket, a hat, gloves and sunglasses. Ski-specific clothing is rarely a necessity, though insulated, waterproof pants substantially boost the fun factor. Borrowing from friends can work well, if you know someone your size.

For equipment, bear in mind that even many experts rent their skis, boots and poles if they don't get to the snow more than a couple times each season. You can save 20 percent or more on rentals by reserving equipment in advance from your resort, says Vail Resorts Inc. spokeswoman Kate Lessman. Reserve online at rentskis.com, skibutlers.com or your resort's website.

"Your paperwork is mostly done when you get into the store or rental shop, so you are in and out faster," she explains.

Even more convenient in some cases is renting before you leave home. Ask at any local or national store that sells skis. This and an advance lift pass can help you save more than an hour each day you ski by skipping you past big lines.

If you're ready to buy equipment -- which can be more cost-effective, get you onto the lifts faster and ensure a better fit -- start with end-of-season sales at ski shops and the resorts themselves. And next fall, check out ski swaps -- typically at a sports arena, park or other big venue -- where you can find deals on new and used equipment and clothing. The season for swaps varies, so ask around at shops and resorts in your area. In California's Lake Tahoe area, the Truckee park district hosts a swap in November. Outside New York City, the Potter Brothers ski shop chain hosts several from September to November. Many major resorts host them too. Be prepared to pay a small entrance fee.

Getting a lift

With lift tickets running $60 or more per weekend day for adults, it pays to research discounts. …

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