Humans Aren’t Meant To Hibernate! Discover Michigan Skiing With These Cost-Cutting Tips

It’s winter in Michigan! For Mickey MacWilliams, Executive Director of the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association, it’s her favorite time of the year. Here she shares some tips for taking full advantage of all that Pure Michigan ski areas have to offer this season.

Photo by Instagram user @benhunt13

Photo by Instagram user @benhunt13

Skiing has been a popular sport in Michigan for over a century, and today it’s a $4 billion industry. Michigan is home to the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame, and some of the first and largest ski jumping competitions originated here back in the early 1900s. We have been enjoying Michigan’s winter weather ever since, and now it’s your turn!

For those who don’t know how to ski or snowboard but want to learn, January is the month. That’s when ski facilities all across Michigan offer an exciting and affordable learn-to-ski or snowboard program called Discover Michigan Skiing. Beginners aged seven and up receive a lesson, equipment rental and a lift ticket or trail pass for just $20 for cross-country skiing or $35 for downhill skiing or snowboarding. To get started, a Discover Michigan Skiing voucher is needed, and they are available at participating McDonald’s restaurants in Michigan or online at goskimichigan.com.

Snowboarders_basin_stKids in fourth and fifth grade can ski for free all across Michigan this year with the Cold is Cool Ski & Ride Passport. Twenty-seven ski areas have each contributed up to three lift tickets for this passport booklet, so students can ski all winter long, accompanied by an adult. Cold is Cool Passport applications and program details are available at ski shops across the state and also at goskimichigan.com.

Ski areas across the state offer packages, special events and discounts that can be a lot of fun while helping to reduce the costs of getting out onto the slopes and trails. The Events & Discounts tab on goskimichigan.com is updated frequently and offers a wide assortment of options.

MtBrighton_2274_485_322_300Want to know what the snow conditions and weather are like at any Michigan Ski area?  The Ski Areas and Conditions page provides up-to-date snow conditions and direct links to ski areas all across the state, where you can view web cams and see conditions in real time.

We live in a state that turns cold for four months each year. Michigan is truly a winter wonderland. If you’re dressed right for the weather – like our ancestors did for over 100 years – it is amazing out there.  Here is a link to a brief, condensed history of Michigan skiing.  Now it’s your turn to get outside and enjoy the Pure Michigan winter!

What are your tips for first-time skiers and snowboarders? 

Screen-Shot-2013-11-25-at-4.57.24-PM-150x150Mickey MacWilliams is the executive director of the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association, which represents the ski and snowboard industry in our state.  She is also an avid downhill and cross-country skier and a very timid but enthusiastic snowboarder.  You can reach her at info@goskimichigan.com.

10 Michigan Snowboarding Facts to Know Before You Hit the Slopes

 The snowboarding season has arrived, and whether you’re planning on shredding the ‘gnar, carving up black diamonds or just going down your first bunny hill, you know that the Great Lakes State has some of the most exciting and diverse terrain in the Midwest.

Photo courtesy of iEnvision Photo

Photo courtesy of iEnvision Photo

We’ve put together a list of 10 snowboarding facts you should know if you want to stay crunchy – or “cool” to all of you non-boarding folk. So drop in and read below to see if you’re up to snuff on these snowboarding fun facts.

1. Muskegon, Michigan is noted as the birthplace of modern snowboarding. In 1965, Sherman Poppen, an engineer, invented a toy for his daughters by tying two skis together and attaching a rope to one end so they would be able to steer as they stood on the board and glided downhill. Poppen’s invention was known as the “snurfer”, a combination of snow and surf.

2. In 2000, Snowboarding was the fastest-growing sport in the United States, with the number of boarders rising to a total of just over 7.2 million. In 2013, in the Midwest alone, 7.1 million snowboarding enthusiasts dropped in on hills and grinded on rails and boxes.

3. Snowboarding was first included in the winter Olympics in 1998. Nick Baumgartner, hailing from Iron River, competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics. He also won the gold and silver medals in the 2011 and 2012 Winter X Games, respectively. Read our Q & A with Nick here.

Baumgartner4. Just 20 years ago, many popular ski resorts, like Aspen and Toas, did now allow snowboarders on their hills. Today, you’re hard-pressed to find a resort that doesn’t welcome snowboarding with open-arms. In fact, not one of the more than 40 ski resorts in Michigan have snowboarding bans!

5. Are you regular or goofy? This may seem like an odd question to those just getting into the snowboarding sport, but to veterans, it’s like knowing their own two feet. Literally. Regular means you snowboard with your left foot forward and Goofy means you snowboard with your right foot forward. Don’t worry; it has nothing to do with your state of mind!

6. Once you’ve got your feet on the ground, you’ll need to know what kind of board to get. There are three types of snowboards: freeride, freestyle and racing. Each board is unique to the type of snowboarding you’ll be doing, so it’s important to ask what’s best for what you’ll be doing when renting or buying. Of the three types, the freeride snowboard is the most popular.

7. In 2013, 67 percent of snowboarders were males and only 33 percent were females, with boarders aged 18-24 representing more than one quarter of all shredders on the slopes.

skiing-in-michigan8. Mount Bohemia, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is noted as having the highest vertical (900 ft.), most snow and the most expert terrain in the Midwest. In fact, Mount Bohemia is rated #1 for powder skiing east of the Rockies by Powder Magazine and has been called one of the top ten undiscovered ski resorts in the world by MSN.com!

9. According to Livestrong.com, snowboarders make up approximately 30 percent of all business for major ski resorts in the U.S. In Michigan, many major resorts like Boyne HighlandsCaberfae and Alpine Valley invite boarders of all skill levels.

10. Snowboarding isn’t just about going down hills. Much like skateboarding, snowboarding can also be considered a trick sport. Many boarders grind off rails, jump off boxes and fly off jumps to land in the fresh powder below. If you’re going to try one of these stunts, just make sure you wear a helmet!

Interested in learning more about snowboarding or planning a trip? Visit http://www.michigan.org/snowboarding for more information!

Five Thrilling Gifts for the Adventure-Seeking Traveler on Your Shopping List

While many will be shopping for gizmos and gadgets for their loved ones this holiday season, we couldn’t forget about the adventure lovers who are always seeking their next thrill. Luckily, Michigan offers some of the most unique and adrenaline-pumping winter activities around.

This year, give the gift of adventure with these five experiences that are sure to blow the thermal socks off the thrill-seeking traveler on your shopping list.

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Dog Sledding Tours

Dog sledding is a wild winter adventure. The hot breath of the huskie pack fogs the crisp winter air as they pull you with focused determination across the glistening landscape. Imagine you’re racing against another team, over the same frozen terrain that explorers did long ago. So “mush!” and check out these exhilarating tours around the state.

Ice Climbing

Michigan is home to one of the best ice climbing regions in the country. One of winter’s newest silent sports, ice climbing combines challenge and adventure. With ropes and harness, ice climbers ascend stunning natural ice structures. Icefalls, frozen waterfalls, cliffs and rock slabs are all waiting to be conquered. Ice climbing takes you to breathtaking scenery that few people experience.

Ski and Snowboarding Packages

SkiingGet stoked! Michigan ski and snowboarding regions offer adrenaline junkies some of the most exciting, diverse terrains in the Midwest. Michigan is home to more than 40 ski areas and resorts that offer both beginners and experts a thrilling ski or boarding experience. So whether you want to catch some big air or just take a lesson, Pure Michigan is the place to look.

Ice Luge 

Luge

For those who’ve always dreamed of being an Olympian, the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex offers three separate luge tracks designed to introduce beginners to the sport of luge. Shorter in overall length than Olympic-style tracks, the Muskegon track provides an Olympic thrill with the safety of the participant in mind.  The track is designed specifically for general public use and those who never have slid before! Equipment is provided.

Winter Zip Line

Zipline3

If you thought zip lining was only for summer fun, think again. Snow Snake zip line tours consist of ten unique and exciting lines that take you through thick woods and over deep valleys at speeds reaching up to 25 mph. The longest line is more than 800 feet long and the highest is 70 feet high. The entire tour is take you more than 4,000 feet. If you know someone between the ages of 8 and 88 who is adventurous and loves being surrounded by the great outdoors, consider booking a zip line tour.

Want to discover more Pure Michigan winter fun? Head to michigan.org/winter for a complete list of activities you can enjoy this season.