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Savvy Traveler: Kids ski [almost] free at many New York resorts

Until the advent of snowboarding, there was a serious decline in the number of skier days with a concurrent drop in revenue for the resorts. It may seem as though all they have to do is wait for cold weather and precipitation to offer a great experience.

That could not be further from the truth.

Almost every ski area in the Northeast has extensive snow-making equipment that is needed both to bolster and to maintain a solid base. In recent years, weather has been fickle and the snow guns created a constant man-made blizzard. The cost of running those guns to cover virtually every trail is exorbitant and without a steady stream of up and coming skiers (much like the minor leagues in baseball), the resorts would become memory.

There are any number of resorts that were popular at one time that no longer exist. That put pressure on the surviving areas to come up with new and innovative ideas to produce a fresh crop of young skiers every year.

The Ski Areas of New York’s new program this year is aimed at skiers in the third and fourth grade. Experience has shown that if youngsters are given the opportunity to ski or ride at a young age, they develop skills surpassing those of their parents while at the same time nurturing a love of the sports that may carry through life with them.

The new SANY program offers two options: 1) For those youngsters who already know how to ski or ride; and 2) for those who have never had the thrill of coming down hill on slats or a snow-oriented surfboard.

Under terms of the program, a student in third or fourth grade can participate up to three times at each participating resort. They may also choose the “Learn to ski or ride” package with coupons for more than 20 participating areas.

The program is “almost free.” There is a one-time charge of $22 — or $43 if you choose both options — as a processing fee. Skiers know that a one-time lift ticket goes for more than that.

In Option 1, the student, when accompanied by a paying adult, will receive a lift ticket for a full day on the slopes.

Option 2 is the “Learn to ski or ride” package in which the child receives a lift ticket, lesson and rental gear at no additional charge. There is no requirement here that the child be accompanied by an adult, but of course adults are also encouraged to get out on the slopes and enjoy the day with their children. Adults will receive a 20 percent discount on the learner’s package. The coupon for this program is valid at more than 20 ski areas.

Both programs require advance registration and some resorts ask that you call ahead to make reservations for the learners’ programs. That will ensure space in the class and availability of equipment.

In applying for the program, you’ll have to provide proof that the child is in third or fourth grade. Acceptable proof is a dated copy of a current report card, a note from a school official or other school record.

The application for one or the other, or the combination program, needs to be completed and sent with the proof and a check for the proper amount to ISKINY at P.O. Box 277Tully, NY13159. It can also be either faxed (315-696-6567) or emailed (passport@44free.com) for faster service. If mailed the application must be accompanied by check or money order. The fax and email options will obviously need a credit card.

For further details and to obtain an I SKINY Free for Kids application and more information, go to the above email address.

Bob and Sandy Nesoff are members of the North American Snowspots Journalists Association, the Eastern Ski Writers Association, the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the North American Travel Journalists Association.

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