Hit the slopes without breaking the bank this winter

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Many busy college students find refuge from stress by taking to Utah’s ski resorts high above campus. Skiing is a hobby people can stick with throughout their lives, so what better time to start than now? After all, Utah is home to the “Greatest Snow on Earth.”

With tight schedules and even tighter wallets, college students often find it hard to find the time and money to hit the slopes during the winter.

The 2013 ski season in Utah is under way and many BYU students have found ways to enjoy their hobby without spending too much money. Photo courtesy iStock.
The 2013 ski season in Utah is under way and many BYU students have found ways to enjoy their hobby without spending too much money. Photo courtesy iStock.

The good news is there are discounts and opportunities students can use to get up to the resorts this year.

There are many opportunities to hit the slopes even for those who have never skied or snowboarded before. Graphic design student Annie Taylor works at Alta Ski Resort while also taking classes. She is usually on the mountain four days out of the week and advises students who have never tried skiing Utah’s slopes not to let the unique opportunity pass.

“Just do it. You won’t know if you like something unless you try it,” Taylor said. “For me, skiing is therapeutic. If I’m having a bad day or a bad week, I head up to the mountains. It’s like going to a whole other world and escaping from the stress of school and life and stuff.”

January is National Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, which is a great opportunity to try skiing or snowboarding for the first time because major resorts often offer deals on lessons for beginners.

“All of our 14 resorts offer really great beginner packages, so if you have never skied before it is such a good time to go and take a lesson,” said Ski Utah communications director Susie English.

Freeride Academy, a popular ski and snowboard club on campus, is the perfect way to connect with Cougars who share a love for winter sports. The club frequently facilitates beginners and is willing to do “everything from A to Z to facilitate beginners,” according to its president, Michael Didier.

Those interested can email the club at , or Facebook message Freeride Academy for more information on clinics, rides and ways to connect with other beginners.

“I would suggest doing Sundance or Brighton Night Skiing first,” Didier said. “Just because it’s cheap and you don’t need access to the whole mountain the first time you go up.”

The $10 membership fee for the club allows access to discounted season passes, 35 percent off rentals at Outdoors Unlimited, tickets to movie premieres and many more exclusive deals throughout the season.

The club is in the process of creating a gear swap through Facebook that will allow club members to exchange gently used items and find equipment for a great deal. They also maintain a ride board where skiers and boarders can connect and coordinate rides to and from the resorts.

For students planning on spending a lot of time on the mountain, discounted season passes are offered through the club and are also discounted at most major resorts. Utah’s ski resorts understand that college students are under tight budgets and have gone to great lengths to facilitate some of their favorite patrons. Buying a season pass through Freeride Academy is a great way to knock $100 to $150 off the price of a pass.

Students who have tried skiing elsewhere have not been able to find the same quality of skiing they do in Utah.

“For me, it’s the terrain,” Taylor said. “My favorite places to ski are Snowbird and Alta, and they have some of the most incredible terrain I’ve ever skied on. And who could say no to Utah snow? It’s soft and when it dumps, it dumps, so it makes powder days especially epic.”

Didier agrees with the importance of taking advantage of the “Greatest Snow on Earth.”

“It would be a shame to come to Utah and never experience some of the best that the state has to offer,” Didier said.

Experienced skiers do not suggest buying used equipment from thrift stores. This equipment can be out of date and risks the chance of making your downhill experience very unpleasant.

“Never ever buy skis from Savers or the D.I.,” Didier said. “Those skis are from the 80s and are old straight skis. Even the cheapest rentals will be 100 times better than those.”

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